Ed Oliver is one of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, so much so that the Buffalo Bills might consider trading up for the Houston defensive tackle. Like every player the team evaluates, Oliver will be weighed against the team’s preferred prototypes for his position, along with his fit in the scheme the Bills like to run. Could Oliver fit with the team, and how might he be used? Let’s take a look.
Sean McDermott hasn’t had to add a 3-technique in two seasons at the helm of the Buffalo Bills because Kyle Williams manned the spot. Yes, Harrison Phillips fell in their laps in the third round a year ago but he began his work in Buffalo as a 1-technique, only dabbling at 3-technique. Because of that, we need to look a little further back to see what type of 3-tech McDermott is looking for.
During his last two years with the Carolina Panthers, McDermott paired Star Lotulelei, the massive defensive tackle now on Buffalo’s roster, with the speedier Kawann Short. Short, a second-round pick, exploded onto the scene and has two Pro Bowls under his belt thanks to big sack numbers and a penetrating style of play.
Coming into the 2013 NFL Draft, Short measured 6’3”, 299 lbs, with 34 3⁄4-inch arms. With a short-shuttle time of 4.65 seconds and a three-cone drill of 7.55 seconds.
At 6’2”, 287 lbs, with 31 3⁄4-inch arms, Oliver is on the lighter side for any defensive tackle position, but he is in line with stud defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s numbers from the 2013 NFL Combine. He also is very similar to seven-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins, who had 32-inch arms at the 2010 Combine at just over 6’1” and weighing 293 pounds.
He is ideally suited for a 3-technique position and has the foot quickness to take over the penetrating defensive-line position from Kyle Williams. Williams was just over 6’ tall and 300 lbs when he entered the league but had great numbers on the three-cone (7.43) and short shuttle (4.52) drills.
Oliver was even better, running a blistering 4.2-second short shuttle and a 7.15-second three-cone drill. If he can maintain the weight to engage with interior offensive linemen, the sky is the limit.
Sample play: “A-gap Sugar”
(by Dan Lavoie)
The concept here is like one of Sean McDermott’s “A-gap sugar” play calls from last year. The linebackers sit in the A-gap and force the center to account for them in pass protection. They will drop back and play a basic Cover 2 after the snap.
This leaves Ed Oliver (labeled here with his college number 10) 1-on-1 against the left guard, where he can knife through the block and hit the tackle. Lotulelei picks up the center and right guard when the linebackers back off.