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Potential Bills target: Draft analysts’ take on Ed Oliver

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His rare athletic ability and production in college makes him one of the best prospects in this draft

NCAA Football: Arizona at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As a freshman at Houston, Ed Oliver took the football world by storm in 2016—with an incredible 65 total tackles including 22 tackles for loss. Following his junior season, Oliver verbally entered the 2019 NFL Draft and was the number-one overall player in the class up until this season. Oliver will be on the Buffalo Bills’ radar come draft night.

Oliver is a special athlete at 6’2” and 290 lbs. His quickness off the ball is rare and is a big part of why he was so productive in college. Oliver isn't going to play at 300-something lbs and that is a concern for some while others believe that is part of the reason for his greatness. Either way, whoever lands Oliver should be excited for what he has to offer.

Joe Marino of The Draft Network and Lace Zierlein of NFL.com have this to say about Oliver:

Joe Marino Overview

Ed Oliver’s ability to penetrate with quickness off the snap and utilize his hands to play through contact makes him an ideal fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 alignment. While he lacks size, Oliver plays with tremendous leverage and offers the play strength needed to exchange power on the interior. By year three, Oliver has the upside to become one of the NFL’s premier defensive playmakers against the run and pass.”

Lance Zierlein Overview

“Twitched-up ball of explosive fury from the moment he comes out of his stance, but his lack of NFL size and length creates challenges with his NFL projection. Oliver’s athletic ability is beyond rare, but his ability to add and maintain mass could be the critical for his future success. He creates early advantages but must convert them into early disruption to prevent NFL size from swallowing him. Scheme fit will be critical with shade nose or three-technique as the obvious considerations. If Oliver’s frame is maxed out, he might possess the speed, toughness and instincts to transition into an inside linebacker role.”

In three years as a starter before missing four games in 2018 with a knee injury, Oliver’s production was off the charts. In 32 total games over that time, Oliver recorded 192 total tackles including 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.

With Star Lotulelei manning the 1-technique for the Bills, the 3-technique for the Bills is currently Harrison Phillips. Phillips is a solid player but presents a fraction of the ability and upside of Oliver. Oliver’s ability to rush the passer from the interior is crucial to what NFL teams need to possess.

Depending how the draft falls, the Bills could be set up in the sweet spot for Oliver at ninth overall. The Bills would fill and need and likely get the best player available on the board.