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Eagles look at another pass rusher in LSU’s B.J. Ojulari


Photo Credit by LSU/SEC

PHILADELPHIA – While it’s factually correct to say the Eagles brought in All-Pro edge rusher Haason Reddick for his ability to get to the quarterback last year in free agency, it’s also incomplete.

The Philadelphia brass also assessed that Reddick’s ability to beat offensive linemen quickly was paramount in a modern NFL where more and more offenses are making sure the football leaves the quarterback’s hands in rapid fashion.

The goal with the Eagles’ rushers, who produced a franchise record 70 sacks last season led by Reddick’s career-high 16, in a scheme designed to limit explosive plays and generate turnovers is to win fast in order to speed up the opposition signal callers.

Despite the organization’s success on the pass rush last season and the return of double-digit sack men from the edge in the form of Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham, the Eagles are on a never-ending quest to find more.

In the NFL it’s “get the quarterback or get to the quarterback” and the Eagles were able to do both last season in the run toward Super Bowl LVII.

With the 2023 draft less than three weeks away the Eagles have used at least three of their top-30 visits on edge-rushers, the latest being LSU’s B.J. Ojulari after the tires were already kicked with Georgia’s Nolan Smith and Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.

With two picks in the first round to start — Nos. 10 and 30 — Howie Roseman is in a position to manipulate the draft board to match up the valuation with each of those players if the personnel department wants to leap.

Van Ness is more the traditional defensive end like Sweat while Smith and Ojulari project more as overhang players like Reiick.

Ojulari said he spent a lot of time this past season watching Reddick perform.

“Just the way he’s been winning on the edge,” Ojulari said back at the scouting combine when asked about Reddick, who has become the template for undersized edge rushers, a category the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Ojulari fits into.

Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah, the NFL Network’s lead draft analyst described Ojulari like this:

“(He) is a polished pass rusher with the athleticism to contribute in multiple ways. Against the pass, he has a quick first step and a combination of maneuvers. He wins with a quick-swipe technique, a dip-and-bend move, or a nifty hesitation rush. He can really bend and wrap to the quarterback once he clears the offensive tackle.

“He doesn’t possess a lot of power, so when he rushes through the numbers of the OT, he often stalls out. He needs to stay on the edges and work half a man. He is fluid in coverage when asked to drop. Against the run, he relies on quickness to swim and work around blocks.”

The first step and the ability to win quickly is what the Eagles are focused on.

The brother of the New York Giants’ Azeez Ojulari, who was drafted at No. 50 overall out of Georgia in 2021, B.J. has also kept a keen eye on his brother’s rise.

“He has a great impact on me,” B.J. said of his brother. “He is like a mentor to me. He is playing for the Giants right now. I lean on him a lot. He’s been through the same process. He’s at the level where I’m trying to get. Anything I can ask him; I’m trying to ask him.”

The younger Ojulari noted there are some differences between the two as players, however.

“We have some similarities, but I don’t think we play the same playing style. I’m more of a finesse-play style,” he said. “He’s more like a striking, bulldozer and I’m more of a finesser.”

Azeez Ojulari has already accumulated 13.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the Giants.

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