Giants’ ‘sturdy’ pass-rusher primed for breakout campaign

azeez ojulari, new york giants
Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll greets linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are building an elite pass-rushing duo with young stars Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. Plenty of confidence and excitement surrounds Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft who totaled four sacks as a rookie. But Ojulari is seemingly being slept on after an injury-riddled 2022 campaign. However, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has expressed his confidence in Ojulari, who he described as “sturdy.”

Giants’ Azeez Ojulari ready for a breakout season

In 2022, Ojulari struggled to stay on the field as he dealt with injuries to his ankle and calf. He played in only seven games, marking his sophomore season as an underwhelming outing. However, the numbers show that when Ojulari was on the field, he was a force to be reckoned with.

In seven games (five starts), Ojulari posted 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, 14 combined tackles, and three tackles for loss. Considering his lack of playing time, the Georgia product turned in a rather productive season.

Entering 2023, the goal for Ojulari will be to stay on the field. When taking his per-game averages in 2022 and applying them to a full 17-game season, Ojulari’s sophomore stat line looks rather impressive:

  • 13 sacks, 34 combined tackles, 17 QB hits

Replicating the success of his most recent season and applying the productivity to a full 17-game schedule should propel a breakout year for Ojulari. Additionally, Ojulari will be playing with more talent around him than ever before, opening up more one-on-one pass-rushing opportunities.

Thibodeaux will command much of the offensive lines’ attention this year; but so will the likes of Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and newcomers A’Shawn Robinson and Bobby Okereke.

Martindale’s defense will maintain its aggression in 2023 after leading the NFL in blitz percentage last year. The fast-paced defensive scheme will create plenty of chances for Ojulari to find his way in the backfield, making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

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