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Houston DL Ed Oliver could be a difference maker for the Giants’ defense

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Dave Gettleman is looking for an impact defensive lineman, and Oliver could be that guy

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston’s Ed Oliver has been one of the most hotly anticipated draft prospects to come out in years, probably since Jadeveon Clowney was drafted in 2014.

The 6-foot-2, 285-pound athletic freak has been on the NFL’s radar since he was a coveted high school recruit. He surprised by landing in Houston, but never made any secret of the fact that his goal was to be a top draft pick and play in the NFL.

Oliver will finally be drafted this year, and will be one of the first players selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. The New York Giants happen to need difference makers at every level of their defense, and have a general manager with a penchant for selecting defensive tackles. After posting elite jumps at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and a pro day short shuttle which eclipsed Saquon Barkley’s -- not to mention three years at Houston where he produced despite being out of position -- Oliver should be firmly on the Giants’ radar for the sixth overall selection.

Measurables

Pros

  • Incredible athlete. Elite burst, agility, and speed for the position.
  • Surprisingly good power for an undersized tackle.
  • Incredible first step. Consistently the first player moving.
  • Fantastic movement skills. Moves like a player 40 pounds lighter.
  • Plays with good pad level and leverage.
  • Routinely disrupts in the backfield.
  • Productive and disruptive despite being played out of position.
  • Great hustle. Plays with a wide-open motor.

Cons

  • Needs to continue to improve his hand usage.
  • Light and lacks length compared to the position prototype.

Prospect Video

What They’re Saying

Ed Oliver’s ability to penetrate with quickness off the snap and utilize his hands to play through contact makes him an ideal fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 alignment. While he lacks size, Oliver plays with tremendous leverage and offers the play strength needed to exchange power on the interior. By year three, Oliver has the upside to become one of the NFL’s premier defensive playmakers against the run and pass.”

- Joe Marino (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)

Does He Fit The Giants?

Of the “blue chip” players likely to be available when the Giants are selecting at sixth overall, Ed Oliver might present the best fit and value.

His tape can be a bit of a challenge to scout as he was horribly (and mystifyingly) miscast as a 0-technique nose tackle in Houston’s defensive scheme. The fact that he got the production that he did from that position is a testament to his abilities as a disruptive presence on the defensive interior. Oliver is commonly cast as a 3-technique in a 4-3 Under defense, and while some might assume that makes him a bad schematic fit for the Giants, it isn’t an obstacle at all.

Not only did the Giants play with a four-man front on the majority of their downs, but Oliver’s power and athleticism more than make up for any lack of length on his part. The purpose of drafting linemen with long arms is to help ensure that your player gets his hands on the other guy first. Oliver’s explosive first step, natural leverage and power, and fluid movement skills should up for the time that a couple inches of arm length would afford.

That athleticism also offers a host of possibilities for a creative defensive mind. Not only will it make him a dangerous pass rusher once he is put in position to do so, but it will also allow him to rush from all over the defensive front or even drop into a shallow zone to create confusion on the offensive line.

Oliver is not yet a finished product, and he will need coaching -- particularly in his technique and hand usage to help finish rushes. There was also an incident where he got into a dust-up with Houston’s (since fired) head coach. The argument started when Oliver sat out the game after suffering a knee injury the week before, and opted to wear a jacket on the sideline. Houston’s coach didn’t want his players wearing jackets on the sideline and an argument ensued.

Oliver fits the Giants’ defense, regardless of which sub-package or alignment they happen to be in, and should present good value, even at the sixth overall pick. The bigger question is whether or not a 280 pound defensive tackle is too small for Dave Gettleman, or whether Oliver will be selected by a team drafting in front of the Giants.