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2023 NFL Scouting Combine

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NFL Combine Notebook: LSU's BJ Ojulari talks Azeez's mentorship


As many players around the league will tell you, the NFL is a true brotherhood.

For some prospects entering the 2023 NFL Draft, including LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari, that bond goes to another level.

BJ is the younger brother of Giants' outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Born almost two years later, the younger Ojulari is widely considered one of the top EDGE prospects in this year's draft class after earning All-SEC honors this past season. BJ told the media at the NFL Combine what his older brother has done for him and his game over the years.

"He has a great impact on me," the 20-year-old prospect said. "He's like a mentor to me. He's playing for the Giants right now, but I lean on him a lot. He's been through the same process, he's at the level where I'm trying to get to. Anything that I can ask him, I'm going to ask him."

The Giants' outside linebacker, who has racked up 13.5 sacks in just 24 games over his first two NFL seasons, shared some advice with his younger brother on how to best handle the pre-draft process.

"Just be yourself," BJ revealed. "Take as much knowledge as I can from this experience and enjoy the moment I'm in. Going to the next level, he already told me that it's still the game of football after I adjust to the speed."

The Giants selected Azeez in the second round (No. 50 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The following year, Joe Schoen drafted Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick to create a formidable EDGE duo for the Giants' defense.

Whether the Giants decide to pair the two Ojulari brothers together in Wink Martindale's defense remains to be seen. BJ added he had a formal interview with the Giants, and described it as a "blessing" if he got the chance to play with his older brother again.

"We've always talked about (playing together)," said the draft hopeful. "When he went to college, he wanted me to come play with him. But I took a different route. This (time), I don't have the power to choose that. So, if I end up with him, I think it would be a blessing as well, to be able to play with my brother again and dominate on opposite sides of the (line)…

"We are definitely competitive. Everything we did growing up, we competed. Playing video games we used to butt heads all the time. At the end of the day, I think that made us closer. He's one of my best friends and best mentors now."

View photos from Media Day as some of the top DL, EDGE and LB prospects speak to reporters from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

*BJ Ojulari is far from the only prospect in this year's draft with a brother currently playing in the NFL.

Defensive lineman PJ Mustipher is hoping to hear his named called during this year's draft after playing five seasons at Penn State.

Despite being a 2021 AP All-Big Ten selection and an 2022 second-team pick, Mustipher is being projected as going in the mid-to-late rounds by many media outlets. However, the former Nittany Lion made it clear Wednesday that - thanks to his older brother's path to the NFL - he is confident in his ability to get to where he wants to be.

Sam Mustipher went undrafted in 2019 following a successful collegiate career at Notre Dame. After signing with the Chicago Bears soon after the draft, the offensive lineman spent time on Chicago's practice squad over the next year-and-a-half, a period that included being waived twice. But since making his debut during the 2020 season, Sam has played in 43 games (40 starts).

PJ uses his older brother's voyage to becoming a starter in the NFL as inspiration for his own path to the league.

"He didn't get an invite to the Combine, but his journey, man," said the D-line prospect. "Stuff like not getting an invite to the Combine, being undrafted, and still being a starter in the NFL. He's given me a ton of advice; just work. It's as simple as that. I've watched him work when I would go out there and visit while I was in school. He was rarely home because he was always just working out. I understand that throughout this process, all you can do is work. That's what's going to separate the good from the great. I appreciate him because he definitely gave me the blueprint…

"For me, that shows me that anything is possible if you just work for it. He's been persistent at that. I got a ton of faith in him, but I have a ton of faith in myself because I've been given the blueprint."

*Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell is another prospect hoping to follow in the footsteps of an older brother. Actually in Sewell's case, it's two older brothers.

Penei Sewell was one of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. After being selected No. 7 overall to the Detroit Lions, the offensive tackle was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team before making it to the Pro Bowl this past season. One year after Penei was taken by the Lions, Nephi Sewell signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in four games this past season.

Despite entering the league second in the family, Nephi is the oldest of the three brothers at 24 (Penei is 22 and Noah 20). Although being the youngest may have had some disadvantages during their childhoods, the third brother is grateful for how his brothers treated him when they were younger.

"Being the youngest, I was always picked on," Noah said. "Can't forget my sister. My sister was basically our second mother, she kind of overran the house. But being the younger brother, they kind of roughed me up and kind of created me to who I am right now and made me not take any bad things from anybody and just keep it pushing."

Noah ended up following Penei to the University of Oregon. The two never got to share the sidelines in Eugene due to Penei opting out of the 2020 season, Noah's first with the Ducks.

Despite playing on opposite sides of the ball, the 20-year-old linebacker has enjoyed watching his older brother's energy and motor along the offensive line.

"I really love watching that boy play," Noah said about Penei. "He really brings a lot of passion to the game. I mean, you see it. Every snap, every play, he brings a lot. I'm just trying to match that."

*USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu enters the draft having enjoyed an incredibly successful collegiate career. Tuipulotu was named All-Pac-12 each of the last two seasons. In 2022, he was also named a unanimous All-American in addition to winning the Pac-12's Morris Trophy as the conference's top defensive lineman.

Tui's older brother, Marlon Tuipulotu, finished his USC career by being named All-Pac-12 in 2020. After being selected in the sixth round (No. 189 overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles, Marlon has played 14 games (one start) for the Eagles over the past two seasons.

Tuli is ranked as the No. 5 defensive tackle on Mel Kiper's most recent prospect rankings, with most media outlets projected him to hear his name called sometime during the first two days of the draft. The prospect described the conversations he's had with his older brother about how to best prepare for this week's festivities at the Combine.

"A lot of it has just been the mental part of the game, not really the Combine," Tuli shared. "We just talked about being myself in these interviews and just going out there and showcasing what I can do tomorrow. Most of it has kind of been being mentally prepared."

View photos from Giants Media Day as GM Joe Schoen spoke to the media from the NFL Combine.


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