Draft ex­pert McShay says Oliver not a reach for Bills at No. 9

But DT not quite a fin­ished prod­uct

The Buffalo News - - NFL - By Mark Gaughan

Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton de­fen­sive tackle Ed Oliver was not as dom­i­nant as a se­nior in 2018 as he was in his pre­vi­ous two sea­sons.

Yet ESPN draft an­a­lyst Todd McShay does not see Oliver as a high-risk, boom-or-bust pick. McShay pre­dicts Oliver will go to the Buf­falo Bills at pick No. 9 in his lat­est mock draft and thinks the Bills would be for­tu­nate if Oliver lasts that long on the draft board.

“If he’s de­vel­oped prop­erly, he’s got a chance to be one of the two or three best play­ers in this draft class,” McShay said on a con­fer­ence call Tues­day. “Any­where past pick three or four I don’t think it’s a reach at all for Ed Oliver.”

Oliver missed four games as a ju­nior last sea­son due to a bruised right knee. He fin­ished with three sacks and 14.5 tack­les for loss. In 12 games in 2017, he had 5.5 sacks and 16.5 tack­les for loss. In 2016, he had 5.0 sacks and 23 tack­les for loss. Num­bers aside, he didn’t look as ef­fec­tive last sea­son.

But the 6-foot-2, 281-pounder spent most of his time play­ing nose tackle, over cen­ter. He moved around, but that was his pri­mary po­si­tion. That won’t be his po­si­tion in the NFL, where he will play over the out­side shoul­der of a guard, as Kyle Wil­liams did dur­ing his ca­reer for the Bills. Wil­liams’ re­tire­ment is an ob­vi­ous rea­son why an im­pact de­fen­sive tackle like Oliver is a log­i­cal op­tion for the Bills in the first round.

“In terms of the pro­duc­tion and the way he fin­ished, I think he could have been used dif­fer­ently and more ef­fec­tively,” McShay said. “I think play­ing at nose tackle re­ally kind of lim­ited him. I think he’s a 3-tech­nique, mean­ing get him on the out­side shoul­der of the guard, let him ex­plode up the field and let him do what he does best, which is go chase and make plays on the move. That’s who he is.”

Oliver also had a much-pub­li­cized side­line tiff with Hous­ton’s head coach, Ma­jor Ap­ple­white, dur­ing a Novem­ber game against Toledo. Oliver was sit­ting out due to the sore knee. He was wear­ing an over­sized jacket on the side­lines and was asked to take it off. Hous­ton has a team rule that only ac­tive play­ers, and starters in par­tic­u­lar, are al­lowed to wear the over­sized jack­ets on the side­line dur­ing the game.

Ap­ple­white told Oliver to take the jacket off, and Oliver was seen ar­gu­ing with the coach while head­ing into the locker room at half­time. Oliver had to be re­strained by play­ers and staff.

He didn’t come back out on the side­lines for the sec­ond half. Oliver apol­o­gized af­ter­ward, and Ap­ple­white down­played it.

Said the coach: “Ed got emo­tional. He’s young and that’s what hap­pens. He’s not play­ing and that’s hard and that’s dif­fi­cult. I don’t hold any­thing against any­one.”

“I would throw out the side­line is­sue,” McShay said. “I think it’s a non­is­sue, to be hon­est. There was a lot go­ing on there. There was frus­tra­tion from the coach­ing staff that he clearly was play­ing it safe.”

“He’s got po­ten­tially $20 mil­lion that’s sit­ting there,” McShay said, re­fer­ring to Oliver’s first NFL con­tract. “He was the face of that pro­gram. He did ev­ery­thing right for 2½ years, and he was just be­ing cau­tious about an in­jury so that he didn’t jeop­ar­dize his fu­ture and his fam­ily’s fu­ture. I will never blame a player for that.”

Like NFL All-Pro Aaron Don­ald of the Los An­ge­les Rams, Oliver is un­der­sized. Don­ald, the NFL de­fen­sive player of the year, is 6-1, 285.

Oliver is be­lieved to have played at about 275 at Hous­ton.

He weighed 288 at the NFL scout­ing com­bine and was down to 281 for Hous­ton’s pro day work­out.

Oliver has elite lower-body ex­plo­sive­ness. He ran the 40yard dash in 4.75 sec­onds at the pro day, best among all de­fen­sive tack­les in the draft class (although he’s lighter than most of them.) His ver­ti­cal jump 36 inches and his broad jump 120 inches, both by far the best among DTs. Don­ald had a 40 time of 4.68 with a ver­ti­cal jump of 32 inches and a 116-inch broad jump.

“He’s not a fin­ished prod­uct which can be a good thing, if he gets with a de­fen­sive line coach that can work on his hands and teach him how to fin­ish,” McShay said. “Lis­ten, he’s not Aaron Don­ald. I know the com­par­i­son was made a lot. There’s sim­i­lar­i­ties there in terms of the size, the speed, the ex­plo­sive­ness. Don­ald was just al­ways a nat­u­ral fin­isher as a pass rusher be­cause he knew how to ad­vance his rush while he was en­gaged with the of­fen­sive line­man. And that’s what Ed’s gotta work on.”

Yar­brough re-signs

The Buf­falo Bills an­nounced Tues­day they have re-signed de­fen­sive end Ed­die Yar­brough, who had been an ex­clu­sive rights free agent, to a one-year con­tract.

Yar­brough fin­ished last sea­son, his sec­ond with the Bills, with 21 tack­les, giv­ing him 44 for his two-year ca­reer. He reg­is­tered a ca­reer-high two tack­les for loss against the Chicago Bears in Week 9 of the 2018 sea­son. That gives him five for the year.

Yar­brough joined the Bills as a free agent in 2017. The Den­ver Bron­cos made him an un­drafted free agent from Wy­oming in 2016, but re­leased him be­fore the sea­son and he was out of foot­ball un­til the Bills signed him.

In 2017, Yar­brough played in 16 games and made six starts. He fin­ished with 34 tack­les and a sack. He also had five tack­les in the Bills’ wild-card play­off loss at Jack­sonville.

Pre­sea­son sched­ule set

Frank Re­ich will re­turn to Buf­falo as head coach of the In­di­anapo­lis Colts when the Bills host the Colts in Week 1 of the NFL pre­sea­son in Au­gust.

The Bills an­nounced their pre­sea­son op­po­nents Tues­day. The Bills visit the Carolina Pan­thers in Week 2, travel to the Detroit Lions in Week 3 for a CBS game on Aug. 23 and host the Min­nesota Vik­ings in Week 4 on Aug. 29. Week 1 is Aug. 8-12 and Week 2 is Aug. 15-19. Spe­cific dates in those weeks are to be an­nounced.

Getty Im­ages

Ed Oliver played mostly nose tackle while at Hous­ton, but that won’t be his po­si­tion in the NFL.

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