Cardinals take edge BJ Ojulari with the No. 41 pick in 2023 NFL Draft

Apr 28, 2023, 5:04 PM | Updated: 10:14 pm

BJ Ojulari...

LSU Tigers defensive end BJ Ojulari (18) celebrates after a sack during a game between the LSU Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 17, 2022. (Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals selected LSU edge defender BJ Ojulari with the 41st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Ojulari heads to the desert after racking up 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss as a defensive end his senior season at LSU.

The 6-foot-2 defensive end and outside linebacker earned a spot on the All-SEC first team in 2022 and was a team captain.

Pass-rushing is among the biggest areas of need for the Cardinals this offseason following the retirement of J.J. Watt, who led the team in sacks (12.5), tackles for loss (18) and QB hits (25) last season.

Zach Allen’s departure to the Denver Broncos on a three-year deal worth a reported $45.75 million this free agency only added to Arizona’s woes.

Allen joined former Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph in Denver after finishing 2022 second on Arizona in sacks (5.5) and QB hits (20) and third in tackles for loss (10).

Ojulari joins a young group of edge rushers, including 2022 third-round picks Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders.

The new Cardinal’s brother, Azeez, was a second-round pick in 2021 by the New York Giants.

NFL Network draft guru Lance Zierlein evaluated Ojulari as someone with potential to start but needs some polishing.

Stand-up rush linebacker with upside as a pass rusher but inconsistent effort stopping the run. Ojulari is bendy as an edge rusher and will wreak substantially more pocket havoc once he builds a more complete rush plan.

It’s already been a busy draft for new general manager Monti Ossenfort, who facilitated a pair of trades during the first round of the draft on Thursday night, nabbing Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson at sixth overall and additional draft capital along the way.

Ossenfort started his wheeling and dealing in a trade with the Houston Texans that saw Arizona ship off pick Nos. 3 and 105 in exchange for Nos. 12 and 33 on top of a 2024 first- and third-rounder.

From there, Ossenfort got on the phone with the Detroit Lions, who sent Nos. 6 and 81 to the Cardinals for pick Nos. 12, 34 and 168.

He didn’t stop there, either, dealing pick Nos. 33 and 81 in exchange for Nos. 41 and 72 in addition to a 2024 third-rounder.

There was, however, another trade facilitated by the Cardinals, albeit for a different reason.

Moments before the draft began, the Cardinals and Eagles settled a tampering investigation involving the recruitment of former Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as Arizona’s new head coach, the teams announced. The deal centered around the Cardinals agreeing to swap third-round picks (Arizona’s No. 66 and Philadelphia’s No. 94) in 2023. The Cardinals also received the Eagles’ fifth-round selection in 2024.

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