Not All Teams Grade Ed Oliver as a High First-Round Pick
Updated Oct. 12, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Since his first game in college football when Ed Oliver dominated Oklahoma, there has been a lot of projections of the Houston defensive tackle being a high first-round prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. The media hype has continued over his sophomore and junior seasons due to his quality production in the AAC. While draft experts in the national media have been projecting Oliver to be a high first-round pick, in speaking with NFL team sources who have scouted Oliver in person, they graded Oliver as a late first-round pick, although they could see a team taking him in the middle of the first round during the 2019 NFL Draft.
"I would bet a paycheck that [Oliver] does not go No. 1 overall. There is no way," said one area scout who has been through Houston. "There are too many potential issues. He's a lot smaller than people think. When the coaches and GMs see how light and short he is, there is going to be pause. Houston has him weighing at 275 [pounds] and say he has played as heavy as 282. They say that 285-290 [pounds] is too heavy for him to play at."
The national media has been quick to compare Oliver to Aaron Donald, the best defensive tackle in the NFL, but sources who have seen Oliver in person say that comparison is off base.
"[Oliver] is not the same guy as Donald," said another source. "He is more comparable to a Dominique Easley. [Oliver is] disruptive, twitchy, and can do a lot of positive things, so that is why people are eager to compare him to Donald because they both have surprising speed. But Oliver is not Donald. Donald is extremely strong, and you could see that at the Senior Bowl when he was tossing guys around. Oliver has issues with mass and problems with double teams that Donald does not. [Oliver's] lateral anchor is a problem."
Because of the size issue, Oliver could have some problems fitting certain schemes in the NFL. Obviously teams that want heavy nose tackles who play a two-gap scheme would not have a fit for Oliver. His speed, explosiveness off the snap, and quick-twitch athleticism would make him a fit as a three-technique. Weighing in the 270s, however, is very light for that role as well. and it would almost make him more of a designated pass-rusher. Evaluators feel there are scheme issues, but think he could play in a 4-3 or 3-4.
"My issues are, one, it is scheme specific that he has to go to the right team and used in a particular way," said an area scout. "If [Oliver] were to go to a 3-4 scheme with two awesome ends like Pittsburgh with [Cameron] Heyward on one side and [Stephon] Tuitt on the other, that could work because it would allow him to get off. Or Houston between Watt and Clowney, but that is a tough situation to find. I graded Oliver as a late [first-rounder], but I think someone will take him in the mid-first [round]."
In the past few years, WalterFootball.com has routinely reported that the media was way too high in their projections and hype on players like Teddy Bridgewater, Mackensie Alexander, Robert Nkemdiche, Anthony Averett, A.J. Cann and Connor Williams. Oliver looks like a safe first-round pick, but he could end up going much lower than the hype machine currently suggests.