Position: Interior defensive lineman
Weight: 291 pounds
School: Houston Cougars
Combine Performance Data
Bench press: 32 reps (tied for third-best among defensive tackles)
Vertical jump: 36.0 inches (tied for third-best among defensive tackles)
Broad jump: 10 feet (tied for second-best among defensive tackles)
Ed Oliver 2019 NFL Draft Profile
It’s not often that a five-star recruit out of high school ends up at a non-Power Five school. But Ed Oliver bucked that trend when he gave his pledge to Houston in 2016. It was a veritable recruiting coup for Tom Herman in what would be his final year as the Cougars head coach before taking the Texas job. ESPN rated Oliver as the fourth-best prospect in the country as well as the number two defensive tackle. So it’s probably not hyperbole to characterize him as one of the best high school prospects to ever commit to Houston.
Suffice it to say that Oliver threw a coming out party in his collegiate debut. He registered two tackles for loss and sacked Baker Mayfield twice in Houston’s massive upset of number three Oklahoma in the 2016 season-opener. The result made Houston a trendy pick to become the first Group of Five school to crash the College Football Playoff before their loss to Navy later on in the season. Still, Oliver made an incredible impact as a true freshman. His 23 tackles for loss were second in FBS while his nine pass breakups were tops among defensive lineman. He earned first-team All-American honors from multiple national outlets for his efforts.
Oliver’s impressive play continued into his sophomore year. His 5.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles all led his team. It led to him winning the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman. He also became the eighth player in Houston’s history to be named a consensus All-American. Though he battled injury in 2018, he still put together a standout campaign worthy of All-American recognition. In so doing, he became the first Houston player to garner All-American accolades in three separate years.
- does an exceptional job converting speed to power;
- intense, pocket-pressing type of player;
- seamlessly reads and reacts on the move;
- wards off blockers with quick and active hands;
- boasts the initial burst necessary to make blowup plays in the backfield;
- relentless pursuer and a reliable wrap-up tackler;
- uncoils hips to deliver blows with optimum leverage;
- has the awareness to get his hands up and disrupt throws if he can’t get to the quarterback;
- fits the profile of where the interior defender position is going in terms of stressing elite athleticism;
- can line up all over the interior, including nose and three-tech;
- gives consistent effort play after play;
- Outland Trophy recipient as a true sophomore;
- three-year starter with a plethora of starter reps.
- a tad undersized for an NFL-level interior defender;
- can overly rely on power and not disengage and diagnose laterally;
- could improve his ability to bend and turn the corner;
- gets overly bottled up when double-teamed;
- dealt with a lingering knee issue last year;
- possible character concerns after highly publicized dustup with head coach in 2018.
NFL Comparison: Robert Nkemdiche
Teams With Need at Position: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles
Projection: potential top 10 pick
Players such as Aaron Donald are completely redefining the interior defender position. Being just a brutish, physical punisher and nothing else makes you one-dimensional. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly important to bring a significant measure of athleticism to the table. Oliver has that and then some. His speed to power conversion shows up on the film time and time again. He’s uber-aggressive and loves mixing it up inside the trenches. And he doesn’t necessarily need to get to the quarterback to make an impact in passing situations as his pass breakup numbers suggest. Though he’s not the biggest prospect at the position and could use some work as a bender when hitting gaps, there’s much to suggest that Oliver can develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player at the next level.