As we get closer and closer to the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s worth looking at some of the prospects the Buffalo Bills may be picking in less than a month. As we approach the big night, we take a look at the background of former Houston Cougars defensive tackle Ed Oliver, expected to be taken within the first 15 picks of the first round.
When being recruited, Oliver had the choice to go to most of the Power-5 schools, including Alabama, but due to proximity and family reasons he chose to attend his hometown University of Houston. Oliver’s immense talent was obvious as soon as he stepped onto campus. His storied freshman season in 2016, in which he helped upset a Baker Mayfield-led Oklahoma and a Lamar Jackson-helmed Louisville, resulted in him earning All-American honors. Oliver’s sophomore season was even better statistically with 76(!!) total tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, and five-and-a-half sacks. His junior year was another story however, as the tackle dealt with a knee injury sustained in early November. After suffering multiple setbacks, Oliver’s frustrations boiled over during an argument with Houston head coach Major Applewhite to end the season.
Despite frequently lining up as a zero-technique at Houston, an extreme rarity for 280-pound defensive tackle, Oliver’s elite burst and fluidity were obvious on the football field, and his performance at the combine backed up that observation. His spider chart is similar to other elite players of his size, such as Geno Atkins or Aaron Donald.
Ever since his freshman season, draft observers have pegged Oliver as a top-five pick. Being one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in college football for three years will earn you that notoriety. However, his inability to turn his athletic gifts into ultra-productive sack totals has worried analysts and his argument with Major Applewhite will have teams questioning his maturity.