The Ravens have a history of taking top draft picks from the SEC, and edge rusher Azeez Ojulari of Georgia could be next.
In six of the last nine years, Baltimore's top pick has come from the SEC – Patrick Queen (2020), Hayden Hurst (2018), Marlon Humphrey (2017), C.J. Mosley (2014), Matt Elam (2013) and Courtney Upshaw (2012).
This draft is loaded with uncertainties due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But while there's no such thing as a sure thing, Ojulari has put up the production and jumped off the tape competing against many of college football's heavyweights, and his SEC pedigree is one of many reasons he's being linked to Baltimore.
"I think he's a good match with what they look for and how he plays," NFL Network Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said on “The Lounge” podcast. "Coming out of the SEC makes a lot of sense as well. He's my 29th player. He's a got some ankle tightness. But again, length, speed to power. He's got a real good swipe move. And he's done it in the SEC. I think those are things the Ravens have traditionally valued. He fits the bill."
NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks gave a similar take on Ojulari when he visited "The Lounge," feeling that Ojulari could make an immediate impact in Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's system.
"He's a natural fit in their 3-4 defense," Brooks said. "He's a fit because he has explosive first-step quickness and burst. He's a little bit of a one-trick pony as a pass rusher because he relies heavily on his speed to bend the corner and round it and get to the quarterback. That said, there's nothing wrong with having a fastball that's unhittable. And his fastball when dialed up and going, it's problematic.
"He can be a difference-maker off the edge. In Baltimore I think it works. It works because Wink is going to send a bunch of pressures and simulated pressures that create some one-on-one opportunities. And he's good enough to win one-on-one when he's matched up on the offensive tackle."
Measurements: 6-foot-2, 249 pounds
2020 stats:10 games, 31 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles
2019 stats:11 games, 33 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
Why he makes sense:Baltimore took a hit to its pass rush losing Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward in free agency. Drafting Ojulari could have immediate and long-term value, adding an important element to a defense that is already one of the NFL's most versatile. Ojulari's game, which is mostly predicated off speed, has been compared to Ngakoue. The Ravens traded a third-round pick to add Ngakoue midway through last year, and they could replace him with Ojulari.
Scouting report:"Fully-grown 3-4 outside linebacker with NFL-ready strength and impressive explosiveness. Ojulari is better in pursuit than he is as an edge setter, but he is quick to slide off a block and either make a tackle or accelerate to pursue in space. Built like a superhero with a broad chest, thickly muscled arms and a tapered waist. Will need to get off centered blocks more quickly. Aggressive play demeanor has NFL starter written all over it." – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
Backstory:The grandson of a Nigerian prince, Ojulari grew up outside of Atlanta and has modeled his game after Denver Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller. Ojulari became a starter as a redshirt freshman and quickly developed into a premier college pass rusher. His younger brother, B.J.,[comma] is a defensive end at LSU.