Watching film can surprise you at times. You go in thinking a player is a beast. You hear all the hype and as you’ve watched his team play during the season. He shows up time after time. Then you pull up the game footage and dial in on him and him alone. You furrow your brow. You scratch your head. You realize your jaw has been hanging open for minutes. Not out of shock that he is as amazing as you thought. Out of awe as to why you thought he was amazing in the first place. You look around the draft world and see everyone else’s rankings and you ask yourself, “What am I seeing wrong?” You re-watch. Every play. In slow motion. After hours and hours it dawns on you that, “they’ve all got it wrong.” Then the worry sets in. You ask yourself, “Am I really going to tell the whole draft world they are completely wrong?” “Am I really going to walk out on a limb over this guy?” “I could easily follow the herd and play it safe.”
My writing would be hollow if I didn’t say what my eyes saw. Unlike many, I take pride in my accuracy, I admit my mistakes. and I do not try to sugar coat my misses. I don’t ignore misses and move on to the next year, I re-watch to see what I missed. I’m tirelessly working on the craft of scouting to grow and improve. I’ve been doing this for 15 years.
With that being said, here goes. I thought my boldest take from this draft would be my high ranking on Will Grier. It is not.
My boldest evaluation of this draft season is that some team is about to make a dire mistake by taking Ed Oliver. He is not a top 5 pick. I do not believe he will be a top 5 DT from this class when all is said and done. I do not have him in my top 32. I do not consider him a top 32 snub. If he goes as early as many are predicting:
The draft network: 4th
CBS: no lower than 8th
McShay Kiper ESPN: Top 10
He will go down in many people’s eyes as a bust. It certainly will be a wasteful pick.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
This has happened before. Do you remember Amobi Okoye?
Amobi Okoye was a 6’2 DT out of Louisville by ways of the defunct Big East. He was not yet 20 years old when he was drafted. Due to that, he only played 1 year in college but he put up a 13 game stat line of 39 tackles 15 assists 12.5 TFL and 8 sacks. His playing weight was regularly around 290lbs. He ran a 4.85 40. He was explosive off the ball, he fired off the ball with very low pad level and was a gap shooting beast. He went down as a bust for the Texans who used the 10th pick in the 2007 draft on him. He was picked between Ted Ginn JR, Partrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Timmons. Those names, I’m certain you know.
Ed Oliver played in the American Conference. Which is what the Big East became after the good teams left for the ACC. His 13 game average stat line is 49 tackles, 28 assists 21.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks. The sack numbers are lower on Oliver because he plays against high tempo offenses that Okoye didn’t see. That tempo also spikes Oliver’s tackles numbers as does the student body left, student body right zone blocking schemes of American Conference Football. Oliver saw a much higher number of gap splitting opportunities.
Last season Oliver played 8 games. He had 14.5 TFL and 3 sacks. If you take out 3 of the 8 games where he played Rice, Navy and ECU he produced 4 TFL and 0 sacks. All 3 sacks and 10.5 of his TFL came against 3 teams that combined to go 8 and 30 last year. Versus the worst of the worst is where he produced. Watch him vs Rice. I’m stunned that’s a D1 center. I’m sorry for saying that but that kid is terrible. Ed Oliver has done a fantastic job racking up numbers versus competition that will not sniff the NFL. However, when he played Memphis he got 8 cracks at DE pass rushing vs Trevon Tate. Tate was invited to the combine. Measured 6’2 293. He is projected by The Draft Network to go in the 7th round as their 227th rated player in the draft. Oliver, mano-a-mano vs almost NFL talent. On all 8 encounters, Oliver did nothing. 6’2 293 with 32.5 in arms, reached him, absorbed him and controlled him. He made it look pretty easy too.
Maybe Tate’s a gem? Probably not. Enough with the stats! Stats are for dorks and don’t prove anything!
In reviewing Ed Oliver this is what I consistently saw. The announcer: Fighting in the red corner, standing 6’2, weighing in at 290lbs, hailing from Houston Texas, Ed “the hype” Oliver. The bell rings and Ed Oliver swings a wicked haymaker. Did it work? Yes, success! No, well that’s all folks. Ed Oliver has a violent low pad level burst out of his stance. It is so violent that he throws himself off balance. He jets out looking to bludgeon the blocker off balance. Sometimes it works. Those times are versus fat kids with no technique and technical kids with no strength. Children who do not play in the NFL. All you have to do is absorb one burst. If you can stay square and anchor after taking one burst, Ed Oliver has won the first punch and now he’s going to lose the war. He cannot reach you. If you can absorb the momentum from his get off, he won’t be strong enough to push you. That’s versus power run. Versus pass pro he’s almost useless. Ed Oliver will burst off the line and throw a shoulder shimmy at the blocker. If he takes the bait, Oliver will juke him. He might even use his hands enough to pull off a decent rip move on you. If the blocker puts his hands out early (doesn’t even have to land a punch, just feel for him) and waits for Oliver to commit to where he’s rushing, then the OL will absorb his burst and Oliver will go nowhere. All you have to do is not lunge at him. He can be stifled 1 versus 1, no help needed. It is very simple to defeat him. Non-NFL OLmen do it constantly on his film after a few reps vs Oliver. He moves around on the DL for a reason. He gets figured out quickly. Oliver shines versus zone blocking schemes. He will jump into a gap and outrace the reach block. He won’t use his hands to defeat it, he will turn his shoulders to slide past it. That’s not correct technique but that’s what he does. He did this once to Cody Ford, shame on you Cody. Granted Cody Ford didn’t get his hands out and the C didn’t pass Oliver off. It was bad execution all around. That’s what you see with Ed Oliver time and time again. He is exposing bad players and bad technique. He doesn’t beat anyone with pass rush moves, he doesn’t control people with his hands, he doesn’t overwhelm people with power. He stuns them if he can and if that haymaker knocks them off balance he can finish them. That’s not going to work in the NFL.
Amobi Okoye was the same exact kid. He drove his shoulders through gaps. He was explosive off the ball. His hands were down at his side and didn’t do any work. Certain draft places have destroyed Rashaan Gary for this exact issue but they’ve missed it with Ed Oliver because his stats look good. They need to watch the film closely.
Ed Oliver has shown little to no improvement from his freshman year in Houston. In his first game vs Oklahoma he made 3 plays. He destroyed a backup sophomore guard twice. His name is Alex Dalton, #63, 6’3 290. He does not play for Oklahoma despite being a senior in 2018. Beating guys who aren’t good enough to start in the Big 12 is not impressive. He shot a gap on a student body right when the center raced out and Cody Ford didn’t get his hands out. Bravo, you got one. He got mauled a number of times in that game by double teams. One where Ford got some payback and Oliver was driven 8 yards down field. He added 2 coverage sacks in pursuit by heading Mayfield off at the LOS after peeling off his failed pass rush attempt.
I’ll give credit where credit is due. Ed Oliver has a fantastic burst off the snap and will snap heads backwards on the initial hit. He wins the first pop. He plays with an insanely high motor and he fights his butt off. He’s going to try really hard. His pursuit is the best we’ve ever seen from a DT. Then again a DT being good at pursuit is like a WR being a good run blocker. Nice plus, but it’s not what need from you. That concludes his positives.
You are about to draft a 6’2 290lb DT in the top 10 picks who’s best asset is that he will be a fine run stuffer versus zone blocking schemes. He is not a pass rusher. He will barely dent the pocket. But hey, at least he will chase after a WR or try to jump up and bat a pass down. After he gets stonewalled on his pass rush, maybe you can ask him to spy the QB like he did for his 2 sacks on Baker. You are drafting a tiny run stuffer in the top 10 because you want to believe he is Aaron Donald. Not only is he not Aaron Donald. He is not even good.
He’s going to try his hardest. He’s going to fight. He’s going to find out that an NFL OL can take a punch. Then you’re going to see, he’s got nothing after that.
Cheers and enjoy the draft! Here’s to this article aging well, and your team not being the ones who fall on this grenade.