It’s rare that you see a player who is miles ahead of everyone else at their position, but that is exactly how I feel about Ed Oliver @Edoliver_11 . He is the best defensive tackle prospect that I have seen and best to come along, since Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska. That in itself is extremely high praise for such a young player. When you watch his tape, you can see this praise is very much warranted and deserved. If you haven’t seen this kid play, You owe it to yourself to put on his game tapes and just enjoy watching him go to work. The sophomore is listed at 6’3” 290 lbs and is a human wrecking ball. Oliver is as highly decorated as any college player can be. Just look at the list of accolades below:
- 2017 American Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 11)
- 2017 Associated Press Preseason All-American
- 2017 Sports Illustrated Preseason First Team All-American
- 2017 Walter Camp Watch List
- 2017 Nagurski Trophy Watch List
- 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List
- 2017 Bednarik Award Watch List
- 2017 Maxwell Award Watch List
- 2017 Sporting News Preseason First Team All-American
- 2017 Dave Campbell’s All-Texas Preseason Team
- 2017 Dave Campbell’s Preseason Best Defensive Lineman
- 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason First Team All-American
- 2017 Athlon Sports Preseason AAC First Team
- 2017 Lott Impact Trophy Watch List
- 2016 FWAA Freshman All-American
- 2016 Scout National Freshman of the Year
- 2016 Scout First Team All-American
- 2016 Phil Steele AAC First Team
- 2016 Phil Steele Second Team All-American
- 2016 AFCA Second Team All-American
- 2016 CBS Sports First Team All-American
- 2016 FWAA Second Team All-American
- 2016 ESPN First Team All-American
- 2016 Associated Press First Team All-American
- 2016 Sports Illustrated First Team All-American
- 2016 USA Today First Team All-American
- 2016 Sporting News First Team All-American
- 2016 Bill Willis Award Winner
- American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year
- American Athletic Conference First Team
- American Athletic Conference Honor Roll (Oct. 17, 2016)
- American Athletic Conference Honor Roll (Sept. 5, 2016)
- 2016 Athlon Sports Preseason AAC Fourth Team
This kid is impressive. But even with that said, it gets even better when you look back at his history in a short amount of time. The one thing that stands out to me is how he prolific he has continued to be, as the level of competition increased. Keep in mind that is when the weeding out process begins, as it takes time for a lot of players, to get acclimated or work their way into playing time. Let’s take a look at his career to date….
Oliver played at Westfield High School in Houston, TX and dominated the competition. He was a 5-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports & #1 defensive tackle in the state of Texas by Scout and was ranked the #2 defensive tackle nationally by ESPN #4 overall player nationally. Oliver was named Defensive MVP in the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game and named the second-team All-American by USA Today. As a Sophomore, he recorded 62 tackles, including 14 for loss, and one fumble recovery to earn district 13-5A Defensive Newcomer of the Year award. As a Junior, he recorded 84 tackles and seven sacks to earn district 15-6A MVP honors. In his final high school season, Oliver recorded 83 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. His career high school stats are impressive, to say the least.
- 229 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery & 1 ints
Despite being heavily recruited by the national powerhouses (Alabama, Baylor, LSU, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M among others), he choose to go to hometown houston University. His family ties to Houston, played a big part in his decision, to play for his Hometown college. His brother Marcus, an offensive lineman, committed a year earlier and gave the Cougars a leg up in his recruitment. At the time of his recruitment, he had expressed serious interest to play for “big boy school” LSU. That tells me he is an extremely confident young man that believes he skillset will standout no matter where he would play college football. How many kids, as good as him do you know that would do that?
2016 He Started all 13 games for Houston as a true freshman and was named First Team All-American by seven national outlets. He terrorized every opponent and proved just how dominant a force he truly is. He finished the season ranked second nationally among all defensive linemen with 47 solo tackles and was 13th among all defensive linemen nationally with 66 total tackles. He also led The American Athletic Conference and finished second nationally with 23 tackles for loss and led all defensive linemen nationally with nine pass breakups. NINE! AS A DT! There are defensive backs that didn’t have that many on the season. This is just another example of the talent this monster has. Oliver added five sacks and three forced fumbles on the season. You tell me how many true Freshman you’ve seen play at such a productive level? Hell, how many players in general play that well?
You might say well he plays in a weak conference (American), so his numbers don’t seem that impressive considering the competition. In his college debut vs. then #3 Oklahoma, he balled out, with seven tackles and two sacks for a loss of five yards. Need more proof? How about when, the then 3rd ranked Louisville Cardinals and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson rolled into town, he had six tackles, two sacks for a loss of 22 yards and three tackles for a loss of 24 yards to accompany a forced fumble in a home win! He had a career-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups in a win over Tulsa & tallied 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss at Navy. Remember folks; this is a DT recording double-digit tackle totals. Then to cap off the year he tied a career high with 3.5 tackles for loss in the Las Vegas Bowl. One hell of a year from a true Freshman DT!!!
2017 With his seventh start of the year, versus Memphis he extended his starting streak to 20 games, every game of his college career. That’s impressive in its own right considering he’s played the last two games dealing with a sprained MCL. Nevertheless, he has continued to play with high success.
To this point of the season, here is some of what he’s done so far. He started the opener at Arizona (Sept. 9), in which he led the team with 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Big E had five tackles, a tackle for a loss of 5 yards and three QBH vs. Texas Tech (Sept. 23). He had four tackles, one PBU and three QBH in win over SMU (Oct. 7). He recorded nine tackles, ½ sack and 1 tackle for loss versus Tulsa (Oct. 14) and six tackles and a sack versus #25 Memphis (Oct. 19). His college totals to date look like this….
- 20 games, 108 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss, 6½ sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recovery & 11 pass breakups
As you can see the step up to the college level hasn’t slowed him down at all. He is a matchup nightmare, for opposing offenses and isn’t a one-trick pony. Meaning he doesn’t excel at only one aspect of the game. He understands he can make an impact besides just rushing the passer and getting sacks. He gives the same effort when collapsing the pocket to get to the quarterback, or when he is running plays down from across the field. Another thing that has stood out to me is his ability to adjust not only during a game but during a play. For example, a lot of defensive tackles, will start out getting a push, but give up when the play goes away from them, or they are not having success getting through.
This is where Oliver’s ability to adjust, stands out. When I watch his games, I routinely see him adjust mid play, when his initial move is blocked. He pushes the pocket in an attempt to get sacks, but when blocked or the QB gets to pass out quickly, he will stop mid push and jump up and get hands in passing lanes. He has eleven pass breakups in 20 games, so it’s not just a coincidence when he bats them down. You want me to blow your mind? Take in the fact that Oliver is doing all these great things at a young age of 19 and is being routinely double and triple teamed during the games. He is so disruptive that offenses have to commit two and sometimes a 3rd helper to keep him in check somewhat. At his age, he is one of the most mature, disciplined and talented players that I have seen in some time.
It will be interesting to see what his mindset on the pros is when this season ends. For any player to be eligible for the NFL Draft they must be removed from High School for two years and at season’s end, Oliver will have met that requirement. Will he feel he has nothing left to prove at the college level and enter the draft and get the BIG payday headed his way? Or will he decide he that he has more left to do at Houston and wants more of the college atmosphere? I am torn on what he should do, as a part of me wants him to stay at Houston and continue to dominate the college game. The other side is so excited to see this young man roll into the NFL and put the league on notice, that there is a new beast in town. He plays in a 4-3 scheme at Houston, but I see no problem with his skillset and game translating to a 3-4 or any other scheme for that matter.
I would prefer to see him stay in 4-3, which I think suits his game a little better. If he does go to a 3-4, I wouldn’t necessarily want him to play at nose tackle, where he will more often than not be double teamed and where it would be easier for the off guard to chip on him when needed, but at defensive end in that scheme. Put him in at defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme and let him eat! He would be a star for a team, with a defensive line, like the NY Giants or Carolina Panthers. No matter where he lands, he will instantly improve the defense. Oliver is the type of player, that will cause offenses to change their blocking schemes, to account for him. Much like the way teams do for Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald.
He has an extremely bright future ahead, whenever he decides to go pro. One thing NFL scouts and coaches will question is his size as he is only 6’2”, which is a little short for a d-lineman. That’s not a huge concern for me, as I see that as a win in the leverage game for him. His non-stop motor just wears opposing o-lines down and has his way late in games. A time when most players are tiring and slowing down, he just keeps rolling along. He is the perfect specimen of what you want in a defensive tackle, as his high motor and strength, when combined with his intelligence and maturity make him a lot to handle.
For those of you who play in IDP dynasty leagues, I suggest you keep an eye on if/when Oliver decides to declare for the draft. He is going to be a special player that doesn’t come along very often. If your league requires you start a defensive tackle then, I would suggest bumping him up your draft boards quite a bit. That’s a position that both NFL teams and fantasy owners place a high premium on, due to the lack of quality depth at said position. Of course, how you value him, depends on your leagues scoring, but in my league that I run, I would have no problem at all placing a 1st round grade on him. In redraft leagues, his value won’t be quite as high, but he will still be a great addition to your team.