Projecting the New York Giants’ defensive breakout player for 2022

Alexander Wilson
azeez ojulari, giants

The New York Giants might’ve drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon with the 5th overall pick, but one defensive player primed for a break-out 2022 campaign is fellow pass rusher Azeez Ojulari.

Ojulari is excited to begin elevating his new teammate, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and vice-versa:

“I’ll be excited,” Ojulari told the Giants recently. “We push each other out there already. To see him do that would be great, for sure. I believe we’re going to feed off each other and we’re going to help us in the long run. Can’t wait.”

Ojulari has spent all off-season building muscle mass and refining his fundamentals. He’s reportedly added 10 pounds to his frame.

In 2021, Ojulari finished with 8.0 sacks, 49 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hits over 17 games played. Ojulari set the Giants’ rookie sack record — at least since it started being recorded.

The New York Giants have something special in Ojulari, they just need to unlock it:

The former Georgia Bulldog has a bright future ahead of him if he can maintain his health. Entering the NFL draft last year, there were concerns about Ojulari’s knee becoming a problem down the road. That led to him dropping to the 50th overall selection, where the New York Giants were patiently waiting.

After a stellar rookie campaign, Ojulari is prepared to take things to the next level, especially with added muscle mass. He has relied heavily on a chop move, which he perfected in college to help propel him forward in the NFL. Now, his power can add to his bull-rush, helping to diversify his pass rush moves.

In addition, his run defense will also take a step forward, having missed 10.9% of his tackles last season. His ability to set the edge will greatly benefit a Giants’ defense that made several upgrades to the trenches this off-season.

A duo of Kayvon and Azeez could end up becoming one of the better pass rush pairings in the NFL. The potential is certainly there. It ultimately boils down to coaching, one of the Giants’ biggest flaws the last few seasons.