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Giants Now: PFF names Azeez Ojulari Giants' X factor


PFF names Azeez Ojulari as Giants' X factor

The Giants defense finished top 10 last season, and after making several additions over the last few months, Patrick Graham's unit looks to carry that success over to 2021.

One of the key pieces brought into the fold on the defensive side of the ball was second-round pick Azeez Ojulari, the former Georgia linebacker.

Pro Football Focus recently looked at every roster across the league and chose an X factor for each team's success in 2021. For the Giants, the analytics site chose their new 21-year-old linebacker.

As PFF's Ben Linsey writes, "The Giants' top four pressure producers a season ago all played on the interior. That is unusual, to say the least. Ojulari will look to change that. He showed arguably the best cornering ability in this draft class and earned a 91.7 pass-rushing grade for the Bulldogs in 2020."

Ojulari had a strong final season with the Bulldogs last year, collecting 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, both of which led the SEC, while his four forced fumbles were tied for the second-most in all of FBS. His 91.7 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus was also the highest out of every player in the 2021 draft class.

The rookie linebacker joins several new faces on the edge for Big Blue's defense. The Giants spent their fourth-round pick on linebacker Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa, while also signing Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson in free agency. Additionally, both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines will be back on the field in 2021 after missing most of last season with injuries.

Fact or Fiction: Sideline Catch vs. Helmet Catch

In honor of the 10th anniversary celebration, the crew debates a variety of topics about the 2011 championship season.

The Sideline Catch is a better play than the Helmet Catch.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Well, this all depends on how you define "better." The Sideline Catch by Mario Manningham in Super Bowl 46 was a more precise and better executed pure football play. The David Tyree play was more amazing, consequential to the result of the game, and required multiple things to happen that we are unlikely to see again. The Helmet Catch might have been the best escape-from-pressure play in Eli Manning's entire career, and the greatest catch of Tyree's career. It is hard to beat those two factors.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - More skillful? Yes. Better? No. The Helmet Catch is one of the best plays in sports history, let alone in Giants' lore. And let's not forget the first part of that play. Eli Manning's escape was just as improbable as David Tyree's catch, with referee Mike Carey getting set to whistle the play dead. If it weren't for that element of the play, then the Sideline Catch might be closer in the rankings.

Lance Medow: Fact - Let's get this out of the way right from the start. They're both ridiculous plays, but Eli Manning's pass to Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 46 is near perfection. Eli put the ball in the only place it could have been thrown - over Manningham's outside shoulder. It was either going to be a completion or incomplete. Manning's ball placement didn't allow either of the Patriots defenders to record an interception because he used the sideline as a barrier. That's just one half of the play. Manningham not only made a great grab, but he managed to keep both feet inbounds with very little space to operate. With respect to the David Tyree helmet catch, both he and Eli made two impressive extra-effort plays - with Manning escaping twice and Tyree winning a jump ball - but there was a lot of luck involved. The former was a result of precision and strategy.

Azeez Ojulari pro day highlights

Check out the video below to watch the best moments from Giants second-round pick Azeez Ojulari's pro day as he prepared for the 2021 NFL Draft earlier this year.

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