The Buffalo Bills added plenty of new faces to the squad this offseason, but they did little to change what they have on the defensive front seven. While they lost longtime leader Kyle Williams, a mainstay at defensive tackle since the middle of President George W. Bush’s second term, they were able to add a potential star via the NFL Draft to replace him.
In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile that draft choice—a first-round pick with incredible potential.
Name: Ed Oliver
Height/Weight: 6’1” 287 lbs.
Age: 21 (22 on 12/12/19)
Experience/Draft: R; selected in the first round (9 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Oliver’s contract is a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year, as are all contracts for first-round draft picks. The total worth of the contract is a fully-guaranteed $19,565,156. In 2019, Oliver will carry a cap hit of $3,557,301, which is third among Bills’ defensive tackles.
2018 Recap: In his junior year, Oliver had his worst season statistically, yet he was still an absolute force along the Cougars’ defensive line. In eight games, Oliver combined to make 54 tackles, 14.5 of which went for a loss, and three sacks. He deflected two passes and forced one fumble. He did all of this while playing nose tackle, a role similar to that played by Star Lotulelei in Buffalo’s defense. A knee bruise sidelined him for part of a game against the Memphis Tigers, and his subsequent recovery from that injury was the reason for all of his missed time last season, including Houston’s bowl game against Navy. He also had a widely covered argument with his head coach, Major Applewhite, over whether Oliver should be allowed to wear a jacket on the sideline during a game against Tulane while nursing the injury.
Positional outlook: Oliver easily slots into the top part of Buffalo’s defensive line rotation, joining Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, and Jordan Phillips as the group most likely to see the majority of snaps at the position. Kyle Peko, Robert Thomas, and L.T. Walton round out the group.
2019 Offseason: Oliver has missed some time this offseason due to shoulder soreness, but he has participated in at least part of all offseason activities to date. He has worked predominantly with the second team, as veteran Jordan Phillips has started next to Star Lotulelei in team activities.
2019 Season outlook: Sure, Phillips is starting in June, but when the games start in September, it will almost certainly be Oliver lining up next to Lotulelei to wreak havoc on the New York Jets in his first NFL game. If Oliver can hit his potential, the Bills will have found a genuinely special pocket disrupter, which is the perfect thing to have in a division dominated by a certain ageless, avocado-loving quarterback. I expect that Oliver will not only earn his spot in the starting lineup to begin the year, but he’ll also be the leader in snaps at defensive tackle while showcasing his excellent athleticism as a “three-tech” gap-shooter in head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s defense.