The New York Giants might have gotten the steal of the draft when they selected Azeez Ojulari. The Georgia pass rusher was one of the players linked to the Giants in some first round mock drafts, and yet he surprisingly fell out of the round altogether and the Giants were able to grab him later on.
Going into the season, a lot of people will want to know the answer to one question. Did the Giants come away with a massive steal here or was there a good reason why every team avoided Ojulari in round one?
Some signs point to the Giants finding good value. For one, a lot of experts have marked Ojulari as a player with upside and Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any of the pass rushers in the draft.
GIANTS pick Azeez Ojulari: Highest-graded pass-rusher in the NFL Draft (91.7) pic.twitter.com/YTPdDiHfVn
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Ojulari has been predicted by many to be as good as any of the others at his position. His college highlights further confirm that he’s for real. And it appears the main reason he was skipped out on in the first round was one that didn’t have to do with play.
Injury history caused teams to pass on Ojulari
A high school ACL injury appears to be part of the reason why Ojulari was passed on for so long before the Giants took him. However, this injury wouldn’t come back to affect him during his college career. He instead is the latest player to see his draft stock tumble because of something that came up late in the scouting process, near the draft itself. In fact, the health problem only came up a week before the draft was set to happen.
However, a week or so before the draft, a select group of players traveled to Indianapolis for medical checks. That’s where Ojulari was red-flagged because of a degenerative lower leg condition according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. Doctors were concerned the previous injury would lead to progressive, often irreversible deterioration, and loss of function in the ligaments.
The other concern is Ojulari’s smaller size compared to other pass rushers. But based on his good performance in college, it seems unlikely that teams would wait as long as they did to take him just because of that.
It looks like the Giants are taking a gamble that his health will turn out fine and that he won’t be another player whose career is cut short by injury, but Giants fans can at least rest assured that there’s no glaring hole in Ojulari’s game that caused him to drop all the way into the second round.
And, if the Giants had reason to believe his health would be a problem, they probably wouldn’t have made the pick.