One of the names that keeps getting thrown around as one of the most exciting in the 2019 draft is Ed Oliver. He’s a defensive lineman from the University of Houston. Playing the position he does, it’s unusual that scouts are predicting that Ed could be picked very early on. Teams are more likely to choose a running back, a wide receiver, or a linebacker with their first choice. This is because the players at these positions tend to affect the game more than defensive linemen.
But Ed Oliver is different. He didn’t take the usual path to the NFL, and he isn’t the usual type of player. Ed can make the kind of difference on defense that a linebacker can. He’s been compared to Aaron Donald, the two-time defensive player of the year, who also plays defensive line.
Ed doesn’t like these comparisons. He wants to make his own name in the NFL. But whether he likes it or not, there are some similarities between Ed and Donald. Donald played four years at Pitt and racked up 66 tackles that resulted in a loss of gain. Ed only played two and a half seasons at Houston, but he had a total of 54 tackles for a loss. While at first glance Ed’s numbers are astonishing, we have to remember that he was playing in a weaker division than Donald.
How Did Oliver End Up At Houston?
Oliver grew up in Louisiana in somewhat of a family compound. Almost a dozen houses dot the plot of land, all belonging to family members of Ed. Needless to say, Ed was very close with his family growing up. Ed has an older brother, Marcus, who was also a football player. When the time came, Marcus chose to play for the University of Houston. When Ed had to decide where he wanted to play college ball, he had many options. LSU and Notre Dame were possible choices for the young star. And it’s possible that he would have gone to one of these more prominent schools were it not for his father.
Ed’s father didn’t even consider the possibility of Ed playing anywhere but Houston. His brother was already there, only three hours from home, and Ed had to stick with his brother. So Ed became a big fish in a small pond and flourished during his time at U of H.
Looking Forward to the NFL
Ed was the star of his team at Houston, and everyone knew he was destined to play at the next level. He was a three-time All-American and became the first underclassmen to win the award for the best defensive linemen in the country.
But Ed’s junior year brought a major hiccup. Offenses around the league had so much trouble blocking Ed that many had resorted to cut-blocking him, a technique that involves diving at the defensive player’s lower legs. This is a dangerous block, and it certainly proved so for Ed. Part way through his junior season he was sidelined by one of these blocks.
There was some debate about whether he could return to play a few weeks later. But Ed’s coach insisted that his future was more important. His junior year was his last in college. And now that he’s healthy again he’s focused on the next step. There are some questions about which position Ed can play. At six foot two and 280 pounds, he’s a bit undersized to play nose guard, the position he played in college. It’s possible he could move out and line up opposite a guard. There’s even been speculation that Ed could drop some weight and become a linebacker.
No one knows what Ed’s future in the NFL might hold, but one thing is for sure: Ed has the poise to take anything that comes his way.