The Green Bay Packers Should Take Ed Oliver in the Upcoming NFL Draft

Ed Oliver

The 2019 NFL Draft is less than a month away. After an abnormal spending spree in free agency, the Green Bay Packers enter the draft with the flexibility to take the best player on their board regardless of position. Although this team had a very disappointing season in 2018, there aren’t many obvious holes left on this roster. There has been a multitude of different projections on who the Packers might take in the first round. They could take another linebacker like Michigan’s Devin Bush or Florida State’s Brian Burns to fortify a new-look front seven. It’s also a realistic possibility that they could take the first playmaking pass-catcher, be it Ole Miss’s D.K. Metcalf or one of the Iowa tight ends.

All would be great additions and good value in the teens. But there is one player that would be an absolute steal if he falls out of the top ten. The Packers should select Ed Oliver, defensive tackle out of Houston, with the 12th overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

The Green Bay Packers Should Take Ed Oliver in the Upcoming NFL Draft

College Career

Oliver became a staple of the Houston Cougars’ defense the moment he stepped on campus as a freshman. Racking up five sacks and 22 tackles for a loss, Oliver earned first-team All-American recognition in his inaugural season. He followed that up with an equally dominant sophomore campaign and a second straight All-American nomination. He accumulated 5.5 sacks and 73 total tackles. The slightly diminutive Oliver (6’2’’, 287 lbs) was oddly deployed at Houston. He faced constant double-teams and immediate contact while lining up at nose tackle for the majority of snaps in the Cougars 3-4 base defense. That didn’t stop him from dominating the competition with incredible burst and agility.

His final season at Houston wasn’t ideal and must be the reason Oliver is going somewhat unnoticed during the pre-draft process. Battling a knee injury the majority of the year, Oliver only appeared in eight games and posted career-lows in every major category. That being said, he was still voted third-team All-American in a down year. He totaled 13.5 sacks and an astounding 53 tackles for a loss over the course of his college career. Oliver enters the draft as a smaller, non-power five conference D-tackle with exceptional quickness and a high motor.

Unique Playing Style

Oliver possesses several traits of both the Packers top defensive tackles. He wins with quickness and agility like Kenny Clark but at the size of Mike Daniels. He would be best utilized as a three-technique with the ability to line up in the space between the guard and center. The Packers just brought in two powerful defenders in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith that have the ability to set the edge in the run game while bull rushing quarterbacks with their strength in passing situations. An agile player like Oliver that can shoot the middle gaps would create havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

He will also prove an immediate disruptor in the run game. While Oliver does tend to overrun some plays or miss a defender while stunting, his initial upfield burst can throw off any designed run. Even when Oliver misdiagnosis the play, he has an unrelenting motor that he uses to chase the play. There were many plays at Houston where the quarterback would begin to scramble and Oliver would run 15 yards to hold him to a gain of a yard or two. There are few players in the game today that combine Oliver’s natural quickness and instincts with the drive to make every play all over the field.

Why They Should Draft Him

The Packers have a solid rotation along the defensive line. Clark and Daniels are as dominant as any interior duo in the league when healthy. Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams have shown flashes and are solid run defenders. Even undrafted free agent Tyler Lancaster came on strong at the end of last season. There have also been rumors that the Packers intend to bring Muhammad Wilkerson back after a season-ending injury derailed his first year in Green Bay. Even if they don’t re-sign him, the Packers have a solid interior group. Oliver would take this group over the top and be the best investment for the future of Green Bay’s defense.

Daniels and Lowry are both in the last years of their current deals. Daniels has been a leader on this defense for years but has battled injuries the past two seasons and is getting up there in age. General manager Brian Gutekunst has shown us multiple times that he’s not afraid to part ways with established veterans in the back end of their careers. If both Daniels and Lowry were to depart, the Packers would have very little proven talent on the interior. Also, Clark is going to command huge money in two years. Hopefully, Gutekunst can retain one of the team’s youngest stars, but if not, Oliver would provide valuable insurance. Regardless, he would be a natural running mate for Clark and the future of the Packers’ defensive line.

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