Name: Josh Oliver
Position: Tight End
School: San Jose State
Oliver brings good size and above-average athleticism as a mid-round tight end prospect. He was a bit of a late bloomer at San Jose State, but gradually became their number one target. His plus upside makes him a low risk selection with potential for high reward.
Oliver has prototypical length and girth for an NFL tight end. Not much else to it, his catch radius is excellent and he has a solid frame that should hold up as an in-line blocker.
Athletically, Oliver is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, he has excellent straight-line speed, running a 4.63 40-yard-dash at the combine. However, he lacks true burst, both out of the box and in and out of his breaks. He needs a fair amount of open field to build up to speed. He is an arm runner, frantically pumping to help build up momentum, which can make him look a bit robotic. Where he really separates himself is in high point situations. He is explosive as a leaper, putting up strong jump numbers at the combine. But more than that, he has excellent body control in the air which allows him to make plays in traffic.
Oliver is most successful as a route runner when he can stretch the field or get his big body in position. He is not as efficient at creating separation as he is at finding gaps. His route tree at San Jose State was vertical- and post/corner-heavy, allowing him to build up speed and get into open space. When working tight quarters, such as slants out of the slot, he hits his breaks quickly and gets good leverage to make the catch through contact. However, his gear-down and burst out of routes is merely adequate.
Oliver will make impact plays right away with sideline routes. He sells wheel routes extremely well, and his ball skills and ability to position his body could make him a nightmare on fades.
Hands and Ball Skills
The red zone should be Oliver’s bread and butter early. His ability to track and high point balls is excellent, and he has the concentration and body control to make plays through contact. He leverages his body well to the outside and attacks the ball on the sideline.
Josh Oliver, San Jose St. – TE— Bear Down Burner (@BearBurner) February 25, 2019
Extremely athletic and controlled TE, immediately turns into a runner after catch. Oliver lines up all over the field and can create a huge mismatch out wide. pic.twitter.com/Q3R7U3whQX
Oliver adjusts very well to off-target throws, as he is able to change speed and flip his hips to save the errant pass.
His hands do not appear as smooth or natural as other tight end prospects, but Oliver makes virtually every catch away from his body and using his full catch radius. He also has shown the ability to make circus catches and one-handed grabs down the field.
Oliver was clearly a receiver first, blocker second in college. At times, he shows good aggression as a blocker, using his length to get inside and attack his target. But his good blocking reps are typically from the slot. When in-line, he rarely does more than stalemate, and frequently is shed or driven back. In space, Oliver lets the play come to him and does not overextend, but his passivity can be a bit of a detriment if he lets his man get leverage. There is potential there, as Oliver is solidly built with good upper-body strength. However, his technique and nose for blocking are all over the place.
A presumed mid-round pick, Oliver is a bit of a project, but one with high upside. Fortunately, Kyle Rudolph’s presumed return means that Oliver would not have to start right away. He could enter the rotation as a pass catching specialist to work as a red zone threat, and over time work in on blocking reps. The Vikings have a number of tight ends on roster, but right now Rudolph is the only consistent receiving target. Oliver’s athleticism could give the Vikings a field-stretcher they have lacked at the tight end position.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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