The Buffalo Bills strengthened their already stout defensive line on the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth overall pick.
Here are five things to know about the newest Bill:
1. A DOMINANT PEDIGREE
Oliver first captured the attention of the football world in 2015, emerging as a consensus five-star recruit out of Westfield High School in Houston, TX. He tallied 83 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and nine sacks in his senior year at Westfield, with ESPN even ranking Oliver as the second best defensive tackle prospect in the nation.
Oliver was recruited by a number of power-five schools, receiving scholarship offers from Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma. A Houston-native, Oliver opted to enroll at his hometown school, committing to the University of Houston in May of 2015.
Oliver wasted little time in making an impact after joining the Cougars’ roster, totaling 65 tackles and five sacks as a true freshman. He finished atop the American Conference in tackles for loss with 23.0, with only Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales recording more tackles for loss in the 2016 season.
Oliver earned one of college football’s most prestigious prizes in his freshman season, winning the Bill Willis Award as the best defensive lineman in the nation.
2. EAGER TO WATCH KYLE
Though Oliver did not officially become a Bill until Thursday night, he’s no stranger to One Bills Drive.
Oliver visited Buffalo on a pre-draft visit, his attention captured by the team’s new state-of-the-art weight room. The facility was among the best that Oliver has ever seen, a place he’ll undoubtedly be spending countless hours in over the next number of years.
“The facilities are amazing, just to put that out there. Their facilities are top-notch,” said Oliver.
In Buffalo, Oliver is slated to take over for Kyle Williams, the team’s long-time starting three-technique who retired after the 2018 season. Oliver is already eager to watch some tape on his predecessor.
“Their scheme is great and it fits me,” said Oliver. “They need a three-technique linemen and if it’s me that they call on then ‘hey I’m coming.’ Kyle Williams was great for them and I would like to watch his film and see how he lasted so long. I think I can come in right away, step up to the plate, and play. They have a unique situation where a guy retired and they need someone to come in right away and play, that would be a blessing.”
3. CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE
Few defensive linemen in the nation were as consistently dominant as Oliver throughout his three years at Houston. He finished his collegiate career with 192 total tackles, 53.0 of which were for a loss. He also tallied 13.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position, this in addition to being stout against the run.
Oliver’s excellence was consistently recognized by the national media, as he was named a first-team All American in all three of his seasons at Houston. Per the Cougars’ official website, Oliver is the only three-time All-American in program history.
4. ELITE COMPARISON
Oliver measured in at 6-foot-2, 287 pounds at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. His lean stature prompted some draft analysts to label him as “undersized,” a dominant college player who may have to put on some weight at the professional level.
However, Oliver’s frame, intensity, and excellent play reminded some draft analysts of a perennial All-Pro. Oliver was often compared to Los Angeles Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the pre-draft process, and though humbled by the comparison, Oliver is eager to pave his own path.
"Y'all need to stop comparing us,” Oliver told ESPN’s Dotun Akintoye. "If you compared Aaron Donald to me, he wouldn't like it. I don't want to live in his shadow. We're going to be competing for who's better.
“I'm trying to be the best to ever do it.”
5. A COMBINE STANDOUT
Oliver cemented himself as one of the draft’s most athletic defensive prospects at the Scouting Combine, putting on an absolute show for scouts in attendance.
Though he did not participate in the 40-yard-dash, he posted impressive numbers in the drills he did partake in. HIs 36-inch vertical leap was good for third amongst all defensive linemen. He tallied 32 reps on the bench press, the third-highest total amongst all participating linemen.
He leaped to the top of many draft boards with his broad jump, covering 120 inches of ground with his jump. No defensive linemen had a better outing in the drill than Oliver.