Ed Oliver is one of the most highly regarded prospects in this year’s NFL draft. In fact, he’s one of the most anticipated defensive line prospects in the last several drafts. His athletic traits and splash plays have earned him comparisons to Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald. While I don’t think Oliver is the same caliber prospect that Donald was, he’s very good in his own right. Here’s what I see with him.
Easy mover. Very athletic for a defensive tackle.
Powerful. Can walk his man backward.
Very good burst off the line of scrimmage. Excellent.
Some versatility options. Could play defensive end in a 3-4 system.
Seems pretty aware of where the ball is and where it’s going.
Bend and dip are both very good for a defensive tackle.
Good effort. Makes the hustle plays.
X Not sure his pass rush moves are completely polished. Most of the time he can get away with being a superior athlete.
X Can be pushed back at times. Not especially good vs double team.
X Level of competition was usually low and easy to look impressive against.
X Legitimate size concerns. Might get pushed around at times as a run defender.
By this point, most people know how good this guy is. Oliver is an outstanding athlete at defensive tackle, even by NFL standards. Explosive and disruptive as a pass rusher. Can throw his man to the ground one vs one. Can play three technique or five technique, both would be great for him. Good vs the run as well as the pass. Oliver is without question a top ten talent in this draft and quite possibly top five.
However, that’s not to say he doesn’t come with questions. Not sure he has the polished moves to get off blocks. Usually can just win with his physical tools. That may not be the case in the NFL, so a bit of a concern there. This was on display some when he played against power five schools.
Here Oliver goes one vs one with the left guard of Arizona. He doesn’t win with his initial quickness and as a result, gets stuck on this block and driven backward. He needs to use his hands better with moves such as the rip and the swim move more effectively to avoid this type of play
Full video found here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HpM-OO3oXz8
This is also an example of Oliver being undersized and lacking as a run stuffer. When he wins with quickness, he can create penetration and opportunities for tackles for a loss. However, when he doesn’t win with quickness, he can be pushed around as an undersized defensive tackle. This is on display in the clip above as he is driven back five years by the left guard.
Overall, I don’t believe Oliver is just a big fish in a small pond. He is an elite athlete who should be drafted in the top ten. I have no doubt that he can be a fantastic NFL player and he would be the perfect defensive lineman for a versatile defense in need of a pass rusher. However, he does have flaws worth acknowledging. His small size and lack of power are slightly concerning and his block shedding technique could be better. With that being said, I think Oliver would be a great fit for the Bucs defense and completely worthy of a top-five pick.