Giants’ 4th year pass-rusher could have a breakout in a reduced role

Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) celebrates after making a sack on Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have revamped their pass rush this off-season, making a significant move by trading for Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers and immediately securing him with a five-year contract. This formidable pairing with Kayvon Thibodeaux is expected to elevate the Giants’ defensive prowess.

Giants Have Overhauled the Pass Rush

However, this shake-up pushes Azeez Ojulari, a former second-round pick from Georgia, into a backup role. While reduced playing time might seem like a setback, it could actually play to Ojulari’s advantage in the long run.

At 23, Ojulari possesses innate pass-rushing abilities. Despite being limited by injuries, he managed to compile 25 pressures, three sacks, and 11 tackles across 424 snaps last season. Notably, he had a standout game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14, achieving six pressures and a sack.

nfl: new york giants at washington commanders, azeez ojulari

Optimizing Ojulari’s Impact

The Giants view Ojulari as a valuable asset and are mindful not to overextend him. Positioned as the third pass rusher behind Burns and Thibodeaux, Ojulari can be utilized strategically to relieve the starters, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the defense. His ability to step in during critical situations, notably third downs, helps manage Burns and Thibodeaux’s fatigue levels, ensuring peak performance.

Provided he remains healthy and effective, Ojulari’s contributions could significantly bolster the Giants’ defensive efforts. His presence adds depth to a position group that has lacked robust options in recent seasons.

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