The Buffalo Bills selected d-tackle Ed Oliver ninth overall in the 2019 NFL draft. Once being hyped as the number one overall pick; Oliver fell right into the lap of the Bills on draft night. Now while some outside of Buffalo may not notice it, Oliver is a huge cog in the wheel of Buffalo’s top-notch defense. The Bills’ coaching staff and the fans know what he is capable of. Oliver could be in for a monster breakout campaign this upcoming season.
Why Oliver Has Not Been Dominant Yet
The Bills run a 4-3 base nickel defense which has 4 defensive linemen (2 D-tackles, 2 D-ends), 2 linebackers, and 1 nickel cornerback. In this defense, the two D-tackles lineup in a 1-technique and a 3-technique. The 1-technique eats up double-team blocks by lining up right in between the center and guard, while the 3-technique lines up head-up to the guard on the opposite side of the 1-technique. The 3-tech is supposed to have more free runs and make more plays, which is where Oliver’s natural position is supposed to be. The Bills have had issues at 1-tech since Oliver was drafted and have made him play there a good amount. Even when he wasn’t, other teams would still double-team him because the 1-tech wasn’t doing his job.
Oliver By The Numbers
Despite playing out of position and not having a good 1-tech next to him, Oliver’s stats are solid. In three career seasons, he has 117 tackles, 12 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, 24 QB hits, three forced fumbles, and eight batted passes. Oliver’s presence on the field alone makes an impact on the Buffalo Bills’ defense. He generates good pressure on opposing quarterbacks and teams have to be wary of where he is. Last season when fellow D-tackle Harrison Phillips became the 1-tech anchor, Oliver did his thing. Down the stretch of the last few weeks, Oliver was constantly causing disruption. He tallied 3.5 sacks in the final three games of the regular season. Oliver coming on strong has shown the potential he has if he can unlock it all.
Why He Can Breakout for the Buffalo Bills
As mentioned above, Oliver played excellent down the stretch this past season. His performance was thanks in large part to fellow D-tackle Harrison Phillips, being an anchor at the 1-tech spot. The Bills did a miniature rebuild on the defensive line this off-season. They added some serious beef at d-tackle in the likes of Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle, and DaQuan Jones. Jordan Phillips played alongside Oliver in his rookie year, which was his best year. Phillips left for the Arizona Cardinals but is now reunited with Oliver once again.
Phillips, Settle, and Jones will eat blocks and let Oliver do what he does best at the 3-technique spot. The huge addition of star pass rusher Von Miller will help a lot too. Miller is sure to demand some double-team blocks, taking pressure off his fellow d-lineman. He even named dropped Oliver as a person he was excited about playing with when he chose Buffalo because he is great at what he does. Heading into his fourth season, with all these pieces around him, Oliver could be in for a ginormous season.