There are plenty of great defensive linemen in the upcoming 2019 NFL draft. However, there may not be anybody as explosive as junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver from the Houston Cougars. Oliver performed during his pro day on Thursday. He did not disappoint the numerous scouts in attendance.
Thus, NFL teams should really think about making Oliver the top defensive lineman selected in the draft. He has tremendous size, speed and quickness to become a dominant player at the next level. Oliver also has some of the best hands in the business. Therefore, he could help turn an underachieving team into a playoff contender immediately.
Oliver performed in all of the requisite pro day events. He ran the 40 yard dash in a reported 4.70’s. More importantly, Oliver darted in the short shuttle run. He finished with a 4.19. That time rivals some of the best NFL players we have ever seen. He also showcases Oliver’s ability to play as an edge rusher on passing downs. For more perspective, Aaron Donald recorded a 4.39 in the short shuttle.
Oliver also out performed Donald in a couple of other areas. He recorded a 36” vertical jump and a 120” broad jump. Oliver also did 32 reps on the bench press. Donald recorded 35 reps during his draft combine. He is also slightly bigger than Donald by two pounds. As a result, you must consider taking Oliver No. 1 overall. If he performs as well as Donald on an NFL field, you might think they were clones.
In addition, Oliver was a dominant force in college football. He’s not a workout warrior that didn’t translate to football games. During his freshman season, Oliver dominated with 22 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 12 games. He came back in his sophomore season to record 16.5 tackles for loss. Oliver finished the season with a career high 5.5 sacks as a sophomore. However, last season was more of a throwaway year. Oliver only accounted for 14.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Keep in mind, he only played in eight games. Therefore, you could prorate his tackles for loss to about 21.5 last season. Overall, Oliver made 192 tackles, 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in three seasons with the Cougars.
To compare, Montez Sweat had 30.5 tackles for loss in his college career. Sweat also had two double digit sack seasons. Therefore, they bring some different attributes to the defensive line. Yet, one stat can’t be overlooked. Oliver made 11 pass breakups in three seasons. Sweat didn’t record any. A lineman that can get his hands in the passing line is even more disruptful than someone that only gets pressure.
According to various reports, 12 teams are interested in drafting Oliver in the first-round. With Nick Bosa likely being the first defensive lineman taken, Oliver could be the steal of the draft. He is scheduled to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the draft.