Picture it: Sicily, 19….wait. I’m not Sofia Petrillo, so let’s try again. Picture it: New York City, at the 2014 NFL Draft. Undersized defensive tackle Aaron Donald falls to the 13th overall pick, mostly due to questions about his size. He dominated the college game, and had a terrific Combine workout, but fell behind 12 other players. His size was a constant question, despite his success. Fast forward five years, and it’s about to happen again. Ed Oliver is getting the Aaron Donald treatment, and it makes no sense.
Donald stands at six feet tall and weighs around 284 lbs. Oliver is actually bigger, at 6’2″. He weighed in at the Combine at 287 lbs, but probably will play a little lighter. Size was certainly a concern for both pre-draft. With Oliver, it was worry that he would be too light to hold up inside. There were scouts saying he would play all over the place, and NFL teams wanted him to do linebacker drills.
Both players were very productive and dominant players in college. Donald even more than Oliver, but they were pretty comparable. It should be noted that Oliver often faced triple teams as he was the only legitimate pass rush threat on defense. Despite all the attention, he got pressure and altered offensive game plans.
Mock drafts have consistently placed Oliver outside of the top ten, ironically, often to the Atlanta Falcons at pick 14. That’s just a pick’s difference from where Donald went five years ago. The pick makes sense for the Falcons, but not for the 14 teams theoretically passing on him.
Like Donald, Oliver has a quickness at the snap that gives him an edge. His burst off the line is often all he needs to get to the ball and make the play. Here, he gets off quickly, and uses an uncanny ability to slice through blockers to get the sack.
Another similarity to Donald’s game is his strength. Despite double and triple-teams, Oliver is able to disrupt things. In this play, Donald is immediately double-teamed, but pushes both blockers backwards several yards, forcing the quarterback into a sack.
There are dozens more plays that could be included here, where he does things that others just can’t. He’s a complete wrecking ball who instantly makes a defense scarier. Saying he’s disruptive is too mild. Destruction is more his game.
The draft is approaching quickly, and boards will change. NFL teams might have him higher than draft analysts. They should. He’s the most dominant player in the draft class, and the #1 overall player on my board. If he falls to 14, or 11, or anywhere else outside the top five, somebody goofed. History will repeat itself, and like Aaron Donald, Ed Oliver will make teams regret it.