The Buffalo Bills selected one of the biggest steals in this past 2019 NFL Draft in Ed Oliver. Oliver not only has the potential to be an important piece in the Bills’ defensive scheme, but also the potential to be the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year (ROTY).
Oliver tallied 13.5 sacks and 192 total tackles in his three years at Houston. Winning awards is nothing new for the defensive tackle, having won the Outland Trophy in 2017 for being the best interior lineman (offensive or defensive) in college football. Oliver will have strong competition for Defensive ROTY, including New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The Alabama product won the Outland Trophy in 2018.
Williams and Oliver are two of many defensive rookies in a talented pool of players. Of this year’s top-ten picks, seven play defensive positions. Many are pass rushers with the ability to rack up sacks this upcoming season.
Like those drafted before him, Oliver has the ability to have an immediate impact. With long-time Buffalo Bill Kyle Williams retired, Star Lotulelei remains the lone starting defensive tackle from last season. Oliver could end up on the defensive line beside him should the Bills coaching staff prefer Lotulelei to start over second-year player Harrison Phillips.
Historically, the Defensive ROTY award has favored linebackers; from 2003-2012, only one winner of the honor did not play that position (defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2010). Since then, the award has gone to every other defensive position except safety.
The last defensive tackle to win Defensive ROTY was Aaron Donald in 2014. Donald recorded nine sacks and 18 tackles for loss that season. Should Oliver put up similar numbers, his chances of winning the award should increase dramatically.