Ed Oliver has been a future first round pick in the NFL Draft since he was a 5-star prospect in high school. The dominant defensive tackle stayed at home in Houston to play for the Cougars, a coup for then-coach Tom Herman. In his three years at Houston, he showed why he was considered one of the top players in the country, routinely making life miserable for offensive lines, quarterbacks, and running backs.
As he prepares to fulfill the promise of his potential as a blue chip prospect this week in Nashville, Oliver is also getting ready for a new challenge beyond just a step up to the elite competition of the NFL. At Houston, Oliver often played on the nose, lined up directly across from the center, but he’ll now move to a three technique, operating between the guard and tackle due to his slighter frame — he weighed in at 287 pounds at the NFL Combine.
Make no mistake, Oliver is still a force even though he doesn’t fit the traditional size profile of a dominant defensive tackle. His burst and quickness are second to none, and he has plenty of strength to handle interior linemen (32 reps of 225 pounds at the combine). Still, there are questions some have about Oliver’s positionality at the NFL level due to a lack of tape on him playing the three technique in college.
Mock drafts have been all over on Oliver, which is why he stopped paying attention to them at all once he saw one that had him out of the first round entirely. On Wednesday, Oliver spoke with UPROXX on behalf of Braun about how far he’s come just over the past few months of the draft process, the biggest change he has to make as he moves further outside on the line, maturity, learning the selflessness required of a defensive tackle, “Old Town Road,” horses, and more.
What has the draft process been like for you the last few months and how would you assess how far you’ve come in that time?
I feel like it’s been light years from where I was to now, from guys I want to cling to and learn from, and even on the film side, I feel like I’ve come light years. I’ve had a lot of time to watch and learn and develop.
You mention guys you want to learn from. Who are those guys in the league now and those you watched growing up that you try to pull from their games into what you do?
Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox, Grady Jarrett, Aaron Donald, you know, all those guys. If you good, I’m gonna watch you and I’m going to learn.