Now that Ed Oliver has been drafted by the Buffalo Billsat the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., here's a look at what fans need to know about the 6'2", 287-pound University of Houston defensive tackle.
He has a blend of size and athleticism that only comes around once every couple years. Oliver might be a little shy of 300 pounds, but he moves like a 240-pound linebacker. In the pass rush, he’s quick off the snap with the initial burst to shoot gaps, but he also packs the power and natural leverage to push a blocker back into the backfield. Where Oliver is special is his change-of-direction ability and lateral quickness, able to beat blockers then close quickly on the ball. His on-field effort was outstanding — he basically faced non-stop double-teams for three seasons at Houston.
Teams will have questions about his coachability after Oliver publicly butted heads with (now former) Houston coach Major Applewhite. Medicals will also be an issue, as Oliver dealt with a lingering knee injury that cost him a portion of last season. On the field, his size is the biggest concern. He’s going to have issues against NFL-sized interior linemen and is purely a one-gap player. If he can’t get upfield early in the down, he’s going to have problems, and teams will likely run it right at him to test him early in his career. As a pass rusher, he just needs to have a better plan overall and polish his technique.
Oliver doesn’t offer a lot of scheme versatility and will appeal only to teams that use even fronts as a penetrating 3-technique. His rocky junior year may cost him a few spots in the draft, but there’s a reason he was a potential No. 1 overall prospect coming into the 2018 season. His combination of physical traits is rare, and his ceiling is enormous.