Why the Slide?: B.J. Ojulari, OLB, LSU

Our “Why the Slide” series parallels and grew out our “Why Undrafted” series. The latter was created a number of years ago in response to your questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For both series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Over the past three seasons, Ojulari was a dangerous pass rusher for LSU and a disruptive presence behind the line. He put together an impressive freshma debut with four sacks and 16 tackles despite being a rotational player. As a sophomore, Ojulari became a starter and recorded seven sacks and 54 tackles. In his final season with the Tigers, Ojulari totaled 5.5 sacks with 58 tackles and one forced fumble. Ojulari’s consistent play led to some early-round projections for the 2023 NFL Draft, and there were some in the media projecting him to go late in Round 1. However, Ojulari ended up sliding into the second round.

In speaking to team sources, Ojulari did not have a real slide because he was a consensus second-day prospect around the league. The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder is an undersized edge defender who is not big enough to play defensive end in the NFL. At his size, run defense will be an issue in any pro scheme. He is more of a designated pass rusher, and that pushed him out of the opening night of the draft.

The Arizona Cardinals ended Ojulari’s slide, and that was a good landing spot for him. Ojulari should be playing quickly because the organization is in a rebuild and needs young talent to emerge in its defensive front seven. With J.J. Watt retiring, the Cardinals need pass rushers to step up, so Ojulari should be on the field in the sub package, which essentially makes him a starter in the modern NFL. Ojulari has a great opportunity to carve out a pro career in Arizona.

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