After a legitimate outing in Week 7, New York Giants rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari may have found his way into the defensive rookie of the year conversation. Ojulari fell to the Giants in the second round of the draft after a knee problem was flagged. The Giants looked at taking Ojulari in the first round prior to his knee issues. His being available in the second round felt meant to be.
Ojulari made a name for himself while at Georgia by being a force on the defensive line. While he is considered a linebacker, he spends the majority of his time coming off of the edge. His play in college has translated directly to the NFL. Ojulari has recorded his fair share of tackles for loss and has forced a fumble, something that he did often at Georgia.
Azeez Ojulari: Second-Round Steal
The Giants have been looking for a legitimate pass rusher to pair alongside Leonard Williams. Ojulari could prove to be that player. Through the first six games of the season, Ojulari recorded three sacks and 16 tackles. He also added another three quarterback hits and a forced fumble. While playing less than 64% of the total defensive snaps, he’s found his place on the team.
Week 7 Breakout For Giants’ Azeez Ojulari
Week 7 proved to be a true coming-out party for Ojulari, as he wreaked havoc on the Carolina Panthers. In what was easily his best game up to this point, Ojulari showcased an array of abilities. He used both skill and power to reach the backfield. He also nearly doubled every defensive stat that he had through the first six weeks.
While playing in 67% of defensive snaps, Ojulari proved that he should be put into a larger role on this side of the ball. He recorded 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss and four quarterback hits.
Ojulari is currently leading all rookie defenders in sacks, with 5.5. With his recent uptick in playing time, he could soon reach double-digits. The Giants’ Week 8 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs could solidify Ojulari’s spot on this defense. The Chiefs’ offensive line has been among the worst in the NFL. A multi-sack game could be a real possibility for the rookie. With the defense attempting to find a consistent pass rush, Ojulari may very well become the second star of this defensive line.
In regards to his chances of winning defensive rookie of the year, it could be argued that nobody has a better shot than Ojulari. His high motor and ability to disrupt the game could lead to offenses having to plan for the rookie, something that isn’t being done for most of the other players in his draft class. While the Giants currently sit at 2-5, Ojulari is a clear bright spot and will be a staple of this defense for years to come.