Buffalo Bills top-5 best moves of the 2019 off-season
By Avery Duncan
No. 1 Drafting Ed Oliver
It’s hard to pass up Ed Oliver at No. 9 overall. Leading up to his final college football season, he was in contention to be the No. 1 pick. His 6-foot-2, 287-pound frame may be undersized, but his rare blend of speed, quickness, power, and tenacity more than makeup for it. Though he wasn’t correctly utilized in Houston, draft pundits compared him favorably to Aaron Donald, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.
Oliver was a luxury pick for the Bills. Many didn’t expect him to be available for their choosing, and their brass likely thought the same. Heading into the draft, the Bills already possessed some talent at his native defensive tackle position, chiefly Star Lotulelei and Harrison Phillips. But when Oliver fell into their laps, the statement “some talent” turned into a “great deal of talent.”
Drafting Oliver should help negate for the retirement of six-time Pro-Bowl DT Kyle Williams. But, he’s not going to make the same type of impact. Oliver brings a new-found fire to the core of the Bills’ defensive line. He’s as fleet-footed as they come at the position, carries heavy hands, and is a powerful bull-rusher — in turn, making him a more than capable quick-twitch interior pass-rusher.
But Oliver is far more than a pass-rusher. He’s earned most of his praise as a run stuffer. His power and quickness transfer well to the area, bringing a type of athleticism most guards can’t handle. His three-year Pro Football Focus run defense grade of 93.5 is one of the highest numbers of the PFF era (2006+).
With Oliver now in-fold, the Bills have a plan in place to be amongst the elite pass defenses in the NFL. On top of sustaining a defense that allowed a league-leading 2,867 passing yards in 2018, offenses will have to figure out a gameplan centered around how to stop Oliver/Lotulelei/Phillips in the interior and Jerry Hughes/Shaq Lawson/Trent Murphy on the edge.
However, it should be noted that Oliver needs to develop his pass-rush counters and moves to be that productive three-down pass-rusher. But, if it takes him a while, the Bills should be fine. From the get-go, he should be a difference maker as a run-stuffer (at minimum).
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