Draft cycles are always weird.
In 2016, when Ed Oliver stepped on the field for the first time at Houston, he was considered destined to be the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Then Oliver performed on the field and it became even more clear he was a complete monster and it became clear he was one of the most complete players in all of college football.
Sometimes, three years can be a long time.
After putting up monster numbers for his first two seasons, he fell off slightly while battling injuries and only played eight games as a junior.
Then, it became weirdly silent on Oliver. He had the tape, he is one of the most athletic players at his size to ever step foot on a college field and he was massively productive to boot.
Why is he not among the top names in the draft?
First, Oliver is not the normal size of interior defensive linemen.
For every Aaron Donald, well that is all there is. There is Donald. Most undersized defensive linemen who are great end up being drafted on day two or day three, Geno Atkins and Grady Jarrett immediately come to mind.
It is just rare to take a player of Oliver’s size that early.
However, when you look at Oliver’s tape, you are amazed that he seems to be the forgotten man of this draft.
Oliver is an elite and unique athlete:
Oliver has elite athleticism combined with a low, squatty anchor and is one of the strongest men you’ll ever see.
Ed Oliver bull rushes two blockers and spooks the QB into a sack. pic.twitter.com/KcsYwFXWYk— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) November 23, 2018
Oliver also has a great feel for the game, understanding how to shed and find the ball.
He also has a strong set of pass rush moves to go with his elite initial quickness:
Ed Oliver is the only down lineman on the line and yet he still gets a pressure because of this lethal spin move. This guy is incredible. pic.twitter.com/0l30pW7NKY— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) March 17, 2019
Ed Oliver played the nose in a 3-4 and still gets pressure vs 3 blockers. His ceiling is as high as it gets and I hope he goes to a team that will be creative with him.#EdOliver pic.twitter.com/pU1Yumn5YV— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) March 23, 2019
The question for Oliver is simply, will he continue to be one of the anomalies, or when he gets against NFL talent, will he fade?
I bet on talent, and there is not a talent quite like Oliver in this class. We’ll see where that talent lands him, but for my money, he is one of the five best players in this class.