Falcons Projected to Land ‘Explosive’ LSU Pass Rusher in 2023 Mock Draft


Getty Defensive end BJ Ojulari of the LSU Tigers.

It is never too soon to talk 2023 NFL draft.

And while the Atlanta Falcons are slowly but surely coming together, they will have plenty of needs to address heading into next year’s draft.

What needs they’ll address first is to be determined, however, Pro Football Network’s Oliver Hodgkinson believes turning their attention to a defensive end with their top pick makes the most sense.

In Hodgkinson’s latest mock draft, he has the Falcons selecting LSU edge BJ Ojulari at No. 15 overall.

Here’s why:

The Atlanta Falcons might have sunk significant capital into the EDGE position last April, but that shouldn’t preclude them from further strengthening what has been historically an area of weakness for the team.

LSU’s BJ Ojulari is an explosive pass rusher with excellent bend and a loaded toolbox. Excitingly for Falcons fans reading this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, Ojulari has already proven he can combine moves together to pose a disruptive, destructive, and dominant presence in the opposing backfield.

Ojulari Has Been a Lethal Weapon for the Tigers

At 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, Ojulari has made quite the name for himself at LSU. In seven games this season, he has already logged 36 total tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

He especially came through for the Tigers last weekend, totaling 11 tackles and a sack on Alabama quarterback Bryce young to beat the Crimson Tide 32-31.

As a freshman in 2020, Ojulari played in 10 games where he saw a total of 314 snaps at edge rusher for the Tigers and recorded 10 tackles, 2 assists, along with 12 stops. He also added 24 total pressures, including 17 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 4 sacks on the season.

The following season, Ojulari saw the field in 13 games, playing twice as many snaps with 697 for LSU. He logged 37 tackles, 5 assists with 29 stops and chalked up 54 total pressures, 33 QB hurries, 13 QB hits, and a whopping 8 sacks.

A 4-star recruit by ESPN, Ojulari, was heavily recruited by LSU out of Marietta High School, thus committing to LSU.

As an outstanding athlete and junior captain for the Tigers, Ojulari has landed NIL deals with Natchitoches, Raising Canes and memorabilia companies.

It’s also worth noting that the NFL gene runs in Ojulari’s family as he is the brother of Brother of New York Giants edge rusher Azeez Ojulari.

Falcons Rarely Reach for a Need

If you ask Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot about their needs ahead of the 2023 draft, they won’t give you a clear answer because they are not necessarily thinking about their needs.

Instead, they are thinking about the best player available.

“In the draft, you’re going to take the best player,” Fontenot said via AtlantaFalcons.com ahead of the 2021 draft. “You can’t be afraid to continue [to add] at every position. There’s not a position that you’re going to say, ‘Oh, we’re good there, we’re not going to draft there this year.’ That’s just what I believe. … We’re never going to be afraid to take a player at any position and build strength.”

He explained that he first learned this approach from Ozzie Newsome––also known as one of the most elite general managers in NFL history.

“You never want to reach for needs,” Fontenot said. “I think it’s cool listening to Ozzie Newsome tell stories about where there were certain players on the board, in certain areas, and they took the best player available, and he ends up taking Hall of Fame players as opposed to reaching for a need.”

Atlanta would go on to draft tight end Kyle Pitts, instead of adding to their secondary or drafting Matt Ryan’s successor.

They took the same approach in 2022, by selecting wide receiver Drake London first over a quarterback.

So, who knows who they will turn to in next year’s draft… however, if Ojulari is the best player on the board when their number is called, you can bet they will take him.

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