Back in April, the Arizona Cardinals used a second-round draft pick on BJ Ojulari, a blue-chip edge rusher out of LSU. From all indications, first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort had made a solid acquisition. Ojulari had racked up 16.5 sacks in 31 career games for the Tigers, and the Cards were hoping for more of the same at the professional level.
For a while there, it appeared that Arizona may have made a mistake with Ojulari. When the season got underway on September 9th, the 6 foot 2, 248 pounder looked terribly slow. Ojulari's disappointing play would continue for several weeks, leaving Ossenfort to wonder if he had wasted away the 2023 draft's 41st-overall selection.
In all fairness, a damaged knee caused Ojulari to miss a large portion of the offseason workouts. Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon eventually revealed to the press that the 21-year-old had undergone a surgical procedure to address the issue. Obviously, the setback contributed to the unimpressive performance that Ojulari turned in during his first seven appearances for the Redbirds.
BJ Ojulari is playing better for the Arizona Cardinals defense with each passing week
Things began to take a turn for the better in Week 8, when Ojulari finally began to show some signs of life. The Georgia native recorded his first NFL sack during a 31-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Ojulari also registered two tackles and a quarterback hit during his finest outing to date at the time.
This past Sunday was somewhat of a coming out party for the highly-touted Ojulari. During the Cards' 25-23 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons, the outside linebacker recorded a pair of sacks, and was credited with two quarterback hits as well. Ojulari also proved that he's a capable run defender, tallying eight tackles for the Arizona defensive unit.
At the moment, Ojulari ranks fourth on the Cards with three sacks. Not bad for a player who's been on the field for just 27 percent of the squad's defensive snaps this fall. Seems like the future is now looking bright for a rookie who just three weeks ago had bust written all over him.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)