Of course, there is a dress code – albeit not too restrictive – around the Giants facility, which all players must abide by: wear team-issued clothing while practicing on the premises. It’s all about that, as far as the guidelines set by new coach Brian Dabol.
As a sophomore junior player, Aziz Ogullari has no problem complying with this requirement. Although, his coach questions why he would commit to any of this.
“If I look like I don’t know if I would ever wear a shirt,” outside quarterback coach Drew Wilkins said recently.
Jersey No. 51 Ojulari fits more comfortably now, amassing up to 255 lbs. digging into his 6-foot-3 frame, up about 10 pounds from his 245 rookie weight—though he’s still on the team’s official roster. At a price of 240 pounds. Bigger isn’t always better, and the Giants haven’t asked Ojulari to come back with an extra pound on his second off-season program. He pumped himself up, and showed he wasn’t satisfied with his rookie production, when he led the team in 2021 with eight sacks.
“I feel like I’m a rusher, you should have some kind of strength with you when you’re rushing,” Ogulari said. “You can’t always go fast. These tackles nowadays are very athletic and very good, and everyone is very professional. So you have to add – you have to switch it up a little bit. We’re in the NFL, so everyone is going to be big and strong, so this is just the right place, what You can do to advance yourself a little.
The new coaching staff will benefit from a bigger and stronger Ojulari. Without any major help on the other side of the defense, Ojulari was at times like a one-man squad on the edge as a striker. He played in all 17 matches (13 matches), and his bags mostly piled up with a relentless rant instead of beating his opposite offensive lineman with a swipe. Pro Football Focus analysts weren’t taken with Oljuari’s performance in his first NFL season, ranking him 83rd among all edge defenders.
There is every reason to believe that Ojulari will improve with more experience, more support around him, and now, more size and power to draw from.
“When we got here in February, we were watching him on tape, I knew this guy was an interesting, exciting year in year one,” said Wilkins, who arrived from the Ravens, with new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. “But then it comes and it looks like you don’t believe the Hulk and you realize this is the guy who’s worked since the time that great season ended until he came back here.
“He’s really a great player to work with. It’s just the little things in his quick passes, like his foot movement, his hand position, his descents, these are the things he’s really buying now, the little details that can take his game to the next level.
The Giants want to believe Evan Neal was selected with the number 7 pick in the draft, to pair with Andrew Thomas guaranteeing offensive tackle points for the foreseeable future. That same belief exists with the addition of Kayvon Thibodeaux, who ranked fifth overall, providing the Ojulari with an advanced companion as a forward sprinter for years to come.
At 6 feet 5 and 258 pounds, the Thibodeaux is taller and less slender than the Ojulari. They both have a large size, which is far from accidental.
“I always say there is a good place for a little guy,” Martindale said. “He is behind someone so big and tall in this league.”
Tibodo in his short time with the Giants has already displayed his strong personality and talent for gossiping. Ojulari is just the opposite. His briefing sessions have been cordial and quick, as the former Georgia defender, picked in the second round in 2021, expands a bit and manages to answer questions in as few words as possible.
Ojulari said he is excited to see the Giants take Thibodeaux.
“I was like, ‘Man, bring it on, let’s get to work,’ ’cause I know what an elite person he is and how good a player he is, so why not?” said Ogulari. “He’s a great guy, so I was happy to have him. He’s definitely explosive, he’s a great athlete too. I can’t wait to keep playing with him and get better every day with him.”
Wilkins said Ogolari has an “excellent personality” although he is much more conservative than the socialite Tibodo. The only trait the giants need for these two youngsters – both aged 21 – to participate, and most of all, is the ability to put their opposing midfielder on their back.