Giants rookies Rodarius Williams, Elerson Smith, and Azeez Ojulari all spoke to the media following Saturday’s rookie minicamp practice.
The New York Giants continued their rookie minicamp on Saturday in preparation for a crucial 2021 season.
Of course, some of the names that stand out from the list of practice participants happen to be the six individuals the organization acquired during this year’s draft.
All are getting accustomed to this new and significant chapter in their lives and careers; sixth-round cornerback Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State), fourth-round edge rusher Elerson Smith (Northern Iowa), and second-round edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (Georgia) spoke on this concept following Saturday’s work.
“It’s been a great experience as far as getting on the team where everyone’s competing for a job — in college, you got a scholarship,” Williams told the media. “So it’s just a different environment, it’s a lot of learning and adapting.”
Elerson Smith spoke on getting the chance to potentially play as more of an outside linebacker within a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play outside a little bit more. At UNI I was more of a traditional d-lineman; here I can stand up a little bit, move around a little bit more, so I’m excited to play outside backer,” Smith said. “I also played this earlier in my career at UNI, so I’m somewhat comfortable with it, for sure I have a lot to learn and a lot to get better on.”
Elerson additionally spoke on the fact he hasn’t played consistent games in quite some time (Northern Iowa’s 2020 season was canceled).
“Football is one of those things — I’ve been playing for 10-plus years now — so a lot of the things can come second nature at this point,” he said. “There’s obviously rust that you have to knock off here and there. Getting into football shape and conditioning is one thing, you spend a lot of time doing things in the gym, but being on the field, running out, doing drills is different. I feel pretty good, for sure I have a lot to work on and I’m excited to get after that.”
Azeez Ojulari then mentioned he’s one of the guys who hadn’t met Joe Judge face-to-face until after the draft process.
“It was great [eventually meeting him]. Got to finally meet the head coach, the head man, the one who runs the show,” the No. 50 overall draft pick said. “It was a great opportunity for me to meet him. I’m happy to be here with him and I’m ready to work.”
Both Smith and Ojulari should greatly bolster a pass rush that is on the rise following a phenomenal year from Leonard Williams and the subsequent re-signing of the veteran this offseason. Ojulari will likely earn more playing time than his 2021 draft counterpart, but both will surely receive reps — coordinator Patrick Graham runs a situational and matchup-based defense and includes a number of guys within the edge rusher rotation.
Williams, on the other hand, will need to put in the work as a sixth-round draft pick in order to make the final roster ahead of the regular season. If he does, he’ll be more of a depth piece in the defensive backfield and will likely earn special teams reps. This Giants secondary is loaded — there’s a very small chance Williams would earn significant playing time on the defensive side of the ball early on in his career.