According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts are projected to select Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari with the 21st overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft in their latest mock draft:
21. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: EDGE AZEEZ OJULARI, GEORGIA
Indianapolis’ edge unit ranked 25th in pass-rush grade a season ago and has their two most productive players at the position, Justin Houston and Denico Autry, hitting free agency. Regardless of their future with the team, Indy needs to bolster its lackluster pass-rushing on the edge.
Ojulari is a true speed rusher who can get away with his lack of standout strength and power with his athleticism. He broke out in a big way in 2020, raising his 71.4 pass-rushing grade to 91.7, second in the FBS. Ojulari also forced three strip-sack fumbles and generated a 24.3% pass-rush, ranking top five at his position in the FBS.
The 6’3”, 240 pound redshirt sophomore pass rusher recorded 31 tackles (22 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery during 10 starts this past season—earning All-SEC 2nd-Team honors and was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.
Here’s his scouting report via NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah—as he currently ranks as Jeremiah’s 41st best prospect overall:
Rank 41 Azeez Ojulari
Georgia · EDGE · Sophomore (RS)
“Ojulari is a slightly undersized edge rusher. He split time between playing with his hand on the ground and standing up on the edge for the Bulldogs. He takes short/quick steps and has a variety of pass-rush moves. He will push/pull, utilize a jump/slap/swim move or stick his head into the chest of offensive tackles and bull through them. He isn’t an elite bender at the top of his rush due to some ankle tightness. His effort is excellent. He can stack and set the edge consistently versus the run. He can turn and chase, showing the ability to quickly close. He saved his best for the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati. He was a destructive force in that contest. Overall, Ojulari has some tightness and lacks ideal size, but he made plays in every game I studied. He is best suited to stand up on the outside for an odd-front team.”
For what it’s worth, Ojulari is ESPN’s Todd McShay’s 29th best ranked prospect overall—coming in a little higher than on Jeremiah’s overall big board:
29. Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia*
HT: 6-3 | WT: 240
Grade: 89 | Previous rank: NR
Ojulari has good size, speed and bend. I really like his first-step burst when pass rushing, and his instincts are advanced. He is definitely better as a pass-rusher than in coverage, but he does have pretty good range underneath when asked to drop back. Ojulari’s 8.5 sacks tied for eighth most in the country in 2020, and his three forced fumbles were tied for fifth.
Here’s what else they’re saying on Ojulari:
Nice rep from UGA OLB Azeez Ojulari - you can see he’s got the tools to be an impactful edge rusher at next level— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 18, 2020
Length, hands, loose hips... pic.twitter.com/CXrgs609dr
Crazy high side rush by @GeorgiaFootball Azeez Ojulari - outstanding game in both run/pass— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 11, 2020
Led Georgia in QB pressures and sacks in 2019. Hot start to 2020 with 13 pressures in 3 games. Big sack fumble here yesterday
6’3 240 RS Soph pic.twitter.com/ZA0VdSJ1ju
Azeez Ojulari has more functional power than I thought. He’s the loosest speed rusher, best high side rusher in the class - but he can win other ways too!— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 5, 2021
Power rush vs Eichenberg
Ojulari is an advanced pass rusher & having hard time not calling him EDGE1 in 2021 NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/moLUaiqUpa
2019 Ojulari against Eichenberg... Using that go-to chop. Good job LT pic.twitter.com/qe064bIO8d— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 5, 2021
EDGE Azeez Ojulari declared for 2021 NFL Draft...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 2, 2021
Only a redshirt-sophomore but easy to see the tools... Might be most explosive/loosest pass rusher in the class pic.twitter.com/8hUEFxV5Jq
Azeez Ojulari is a better run defender than I initially saw...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 19, 2021
Nice rep here vs big RT Larry Borom. Hands tight inside, good strength at point of attack. Forces run into B-Gap and keeps arm free to wrangle. pic.twitter.com/j7OLkWEEcq
#Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari announces that he’s entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Arguably the most talented pass rusher in this class.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 2, 2021
Azeez Ojulari vs. Alex Leatherwood was a great battle. This rep stood out from the #UGA EDGE rusher. Only a redshirt sophomore, but he’s already so good with his hands as a pass rusher. pic.twitter.com/Eb6WnFrIru— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) December 1, 2020
Highest pass-rush grade among draft-eligible defenders in 2020:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 19, 2021
1. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia - 91.7
2. Christian Barmore, Bama - 91.5
3. Wyatt Hubert, Kansas St. - 90.8 pic.twitter.com/msJRhQzdxR
Few would have blamed EDGE Azeez Ojulari if he elected to skip the bowl game. He was already in the 1st round mix.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 1, 2021
But he competed and put together a dominant 4th quarter performance that was the difference in the game for #Georgia. That will matter with NFL teams.
EDGE1 https://t.co/uhRlTKMPuy— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 3, 2021
I haven’t watched everyone yet, but I’ve seen enough of Ojulari to think he’ll be in conversation for top edge defender off the board. A name to watch for #Bucs too (nobody knows how high he’ll go so chill ) https://t.co/M2KFlJxjgJ— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 2, 2021
Now, as PFF points out, the Colts have both an immediate and long-term need at defensive end, as last year’s starters Justin Houston (32) and Denico Autry (30) are both free agents—as is rotational backup Al-Quadin Muhammad.
2018 second round pick Kemoko Turay has shown some flashes on the field, but he has yet to demonstrate that he’s fully recovered from a season-ending ankle injury that he suffered in 2019 and required surgery—as he was pretty well non-existent upon his return this past season.
The same goes for 2019 2nd round pick, Ben Banogu, who was a healthy scratch down the stretch in 2020 and needs to take a big leap forward during his third pro season.
Regarding the Colts’ pass rush last season:
“The Colts ranked 12th (tied) in most sacks with 40.0 sacks this past season. Per ESPN analytics, Indianapolis had the 15th highest pass rush win rate at 42%.”
It was around a league average unit—for a group that lacked an elite edge pass rusher, yet found a way to still be respectable, but did stall late in the season in generating consistent pass pressure—which really hurt their defense overall.
It’s a pass rush that could definitely withstand to improve with a speedy impact pass rusher off the edge.
Ojulari is one of this year’s NFL Draft’s top edge prospects, who’s been battle-tested against elite competition in the SEC—and as only a redshirt sophomore with really productive results for the Georgia Bulldogs—and much more room for continued growth.
It’s also worth noting that PFF projected the Colts to select Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little in the second round:
54. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: T WALKER LITTLE, STANFORD
With just 72 snaps over the last two years, Little is one of the riskiest prospects in the class. The 6-foot-7, 309-pound tackle was in the running to be one of the best tackles in the entire 2020 class, but he was hurt that year and then Covid-19 got in the way this year. The Colts are in dire need of a left tackle after Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, and Little has the upside worth rolling the dice on here.
Little essentially looked like a brick wall in pass-protection the last time we saw him, earning an 81.2 pass-block grade in 2018. And he reached that mark playing the second-most true pass sets of any Power 5 left tackle that year.
Both prospects would fill major needs for the Colts this offseason.