Buffalo Bills: A season preview of Ed Oliver and the defensive line

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: Ed Oliver #10 of the Houston Cougars rests on the sideline in the first half against the Rice Owls at Rice Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: Ed Oliver #10 of the Houston Cougars rests on the sideline in the first half against the Rice Owls at Rice Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

As training camp commences for the Buffalo Bills, expectations begin to be set for Ed Oliver and the defensive line.

Coming into the NFL, the 6-2, 287-pound defensive tackle Ed Oliver out of the University of Houston saw himself compared to some of the biggest names in the game. Labeled as similar to Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, the newest member of the Buffalo Bills will have a lot of work to do if he is to live up to those comparables.

Luckily, for Oliver, he has that once earned him consideration to be the No. 1 overall pick. He has an undersized frame but is an explosive athlete with high football IQ to ensure he reaches the level of those top tier defensive tackles.

When it comes to the sheer impact that Oliver makes on the defensive side of the football, it’s immense. During his time at Houston, he recorded a total of 193 tackles over three years with 13.5 of them being sacks. When comparing those stats to Donald, he edges him out by 12 tackles but has significantly fewer sacks in that same span.

More from BuffaLowDown

Now, many years after their college careers, Donald embodies what the growing standard is for a defensive tackle in the NFL. A defensive tackle who can firstly, stop the run. This is incredibly crucial as the NFL has developed into a more balanced league where running backs and quarterbacks have shown the ability to be the difference makers. Despite the fact that the league being pass dominate for some time now.

Secondly, defensive tackles like Donald have the size and strength to get after the quarterback. In his first season, the Rams recorded nine sacks while playing as an interior pass-rusher.

For Oliver, a successful rookie season would be numbers that simulate those of all the great (Donald) that came before him. Recording North of the league average for sacks and contributing to the Bills defensive line could help him achieve and surpass all expectations set for the newest member of the Buffalo front.

Historically, the Bills have done a tremendous job of building a competitive front four. From the days prior of Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams to present with Harrison Phillips and Oliver, strength and physicality have always been at the bedrock of the Buffalo line.

In prior seasons, the Bills were rated amongst the top -0 in the NFL as they finished fourth in back-to-back years in rushing yards against with 2,130 in 2016 and 1,994 in 2017. Last season, they fell 12 spots as they gave up 1,839 yards.

With Oliver’s presences on the defensive line, there is growing faith that the Bills, led by defensive coordinator Leslie Fraizer and defensive line coach Bill Teerlinick, can propel the team back into the playoff hunt and instill fear into opposing offenses along the way.

Currently, the Bills defensive line is in the works with training camp underway. But as the season starts, it is believed that both Phillips and Oliver will get the nod and will be starting defensive tackles for the 2019/20 season. Both Philips and Oliver bring one thing in common to the table which the Bills need; wide bodies who can disrupt defenses with sheer strength and power.

That will fit well into Fraizer’s scheme. During his time with the Minnesota Vikings from 2007-13, his pass rush topped the NFL in sacks with 297 and the second-most forced fumbles with 114. Going into this year, Fraizer is getting a (Harrison) Phillips that has a year of experience and a rookie Oliver eager to make an impact.

With that known, the roster is there, but the execution needs to be carried out to perfection if the Bills want to take home the AFC East this season. As the New England Patriots return as Super Bowl champions, there is a significant piece in Rob Gronkowski missing who retired at the end of last season.

Combine that with the current state of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, and there is a real possibility that if the Bills are a stand-out defensive team in the AFC, that they can come away with the division this year.

dark. Next. Cody Ford establishing himself at right tackle

With all these variables up in the air as the season starts in a month, all eyes will be on Oliver and the Bills line to see if they can reclaim their defensive glory.