Packers.com consulted more than a dozen mock drafts from reputable national outlets and compiled a list of players most frequently mocked as draft selections in the bottom third of the first round (picks 20-32).
Between now and draft day, when the Packers are slated to select at No. 29 overall, those players will be profiled with thumbnail sketches in a new series entitled “Draft Digest.”
Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia
Key stats: Recorded 8½ sacks and four forced fumbles in just 10 games in 2020.
College honors: Named second-team All-Southeastern Conference and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive player.
Background: A lot of top draft prospects sit out their college team’s bowl game so as not to risk injury and begin preparing for the draft. Ojulari didn’t do that, and it turned out to be a great move. He finished his collegiate career in style by dominating Cincinnati in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to the tune of three sacks and two forced fumbles, one producing a safety. The performance gave him, in a 10-game season, a total of 12½ tackles for loss and 8½ sacks, both tops among SEC players. The Marietta, Ga., native earned his team’s most improved award on defense as a redshirt freshman in 2019, recording 5½ sacks and a team-leading 34 QB pressures. Based on his size, there are questions about his consistency setting the edge and stopping the run, but he plays the game with power and explosiveness that make him plenty disruptive. Solid pro day results (4.6s in the 40, 28 bench reps, 10-7 broad jump) solidified his first-round status.
Potential fit with Packers: Back in 2019, when the Packers signed Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and drafted Rashan Gary in the first round in a span of six weeks, they declared their preference to be stocked with edge rushers from now on rather than counting on one guy to produce. Those moves relegated 2018 sack leader Kyler Fackrell to No. 4 on the depth chart, and he was allowed to leave in free agency a year later. That’s the context within which the potential selection of Ojulari should be viewed. Edge rusher is a premier position, and defensive coordinators want to have enough quality depth to keep players fresh over long games and a long season. Multiple options for sub-packages are also desired. Ojulari is ready-made to provide edge pressure on passing downs while the rest of his game develops.