The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 NFL draft.
A team can never have enough talented pass rushers and the Green Bay Packers are in dire need of more playmakers off the edge.
With Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare the Packers have a solid trio on paper. Gary will likely miss the beginning of the upcoming season as he recovers from a torn ACL. Smith will be 31 in November and could be playing in his final season in Green Bay. Enagbare led to be a solid rotational piece.
Add it all up and the Packers need to add an edge rusher or two this offseason. Luckily for the Packers, the 2023 NFL Draft is loaded with talented edge rushers.
A player that Brian Gutekunst could target in the upcoming draft is BJ Ojulari. The LSU edge rusher checks in at No. 57 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
The grandson of a Nigerian prince and the younger brother of Azeez Ojulari, Ojulari came to LSU as a four-star recruit from Georgia. During his first season on campus, Ojulari recorded five tackles for loss and four sacks. In 2021, Ojulari recorded 54 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks. This past season Ojulari recorded 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The Georgia native also earned the honor of wearing the No. 18, which is given to the player who best represents what it is to be an LSU Tiger.
“He was the leader of the defensive front in Baton Rouge this year, he has felt like that guy since he got here, but it was most obvious this season,” Dylan Sanders, a staff writer for Geaux247.com said. “He also was playing a brand-new position, moving to more of a JACK linebacker role as opposed to a defensive end. So, to be as impactful as he was in a new position with a new staff and new teammates was pretty impressive. Some people may have expected more, but I think he did very well considering the circumstances.”
Ojulari has an explosive first step that helps him win the edge. He screams off the edge. He has long arms. He has a loose lower body and is bendy. When he wins the corner he has an excellent closing burst to the quarterback. He’s a smart player and understands how offensive tackles want to block him and does a good job of stringing or setting up moves to beat them. According to that Pro Football FocusOjulari has recorded 103 pressures over the past two seasons.
“He’s a very smooth pass rusher,” Sanders said. “His greatest strength is his swim move if I had to pick one thing out. I mean, he’s a very natural athlete, but watching his repertoire grow through his time has been good to see. It’s clear that he puts in the work to improve. He’s not the biggest or strongest guy on the field, but he knows that and attacks you in a way that gives him the advantage. He’s a really smart player.”
Ojualri has a high football IQ and is able to sniff out screens. He’ll use his quickness to win off the snap and slither through to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He has excellent pursuit speed as a backside defender. Ojulari has excellent change of direction skills. At 248 pounds, he can be pushed off his spot at the point of attack and can struggle to get off blocks.
“He’s not the guy that’s going to overpower guys, getting off the edge and shutting down the run every time,” Sanders said. “He’s not Maxx Crosby or Cameron Jordan. But again, as I’ve talked about, he’s a good athlete and very smart. He’ll read runners very well and get his stops that way. He also has a good motor and does very well in the pursuit of guys that get around him.”
Fit with the Packers
The Packers need more edge rushers. Ojulari may be “undersized” but he’s an explosive edge rusher with a knack for putting pressure on the quarterback.
“Well at the combine, everyone talks about how important the interview is,” Sanders said. “That’s where I’ll start with Ojulari. One of the brightest players I’ve had the privilege of talking to so far in my time in Baton Rouge. He’s intelligent, kind and genuine. I think he’ll knock that part of the process out of the park. He’s also a great leader, as shown by him wearing #18 this year, which is famously given to the team’s top leader for the season. Speaking of on the field reasons, it’s kind of all I’ve mentioned so far. He has a great upside as a pass rusher, which is quickly becoming one of the most valuable positions in the league.”
The name of the game is to get after the quarterback and a team can never have enough edge rushers and last season Green Bay’s pass rush was stagnant. The Packers finished this past season with just 256 pressures, which ranked 26th in the league (PFF).
Adding Ojulari to the mix would bolster Green Bay’s pass rush. He may not see the field on first or second down, but put him on the field on third down and let him pin his ears back and let him use his explosiveness off the snap to get after the quarterback.