Buffalo Bills: Why Ed Oliver is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign
By Daniel Bruce
What can Ed Oliver build on?
Buffalo as a whole can build on what was a great 2019 season for an up and coming team, and Oliver is one of the driving forces for the team.
Oliver finished seventh among defensive tackles in pass rush win rate, according to ESPN. This is a remarkable stat for a rookie trying to learn the league.
With the amazing versatility that the Buffalo Bills now have on the defensive line with the additions of Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa and Quinton Jefferson (5th in pass rush win rate) the Bills can move Oliver all over the line.
On passing downs Oliver will most likely line up at 1-technique or 3-technique and on the rare occasion could be put at 5-technique. That versatility should add more opportunities for Oliver to avoid double teams and push his pass rush win rate even higher up the board.
Oliver played 54 percent of defensive snaps last season ranking first on the Bills among defensive tackles, only a percent more than his positional mate Jordan Phillips. With Phillips out of the picture look for Oliver to gain a higher percentage of snaps.
A good comparable for Ed Oliver is Kawann Short who played under Sean McDermott when he was the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers while Short was in his prime in 2015 and 2016. Short saw snap counts of 69 and 73 percent, which would be a huge jump for Oliver. The sophomore defensive tackle could see McDermott put him on for around 65% of defensive snaps which would be a good 10% increase from last season. With more responsibility, Oliver could flourish and his production would almost certainly increase.
In the run game Oliver is no slouch, with his low center of gravity being just 6’1″, he is hard to move off his spot and can take up blockers. On the first play shown versus the Cowboys, Oliver uses his quick first step to blow past a blocker and stops the run with ease, his speed is a huge asset in getting to spots before an offensive lineman can react.
Going against Marshal Yanda one of the best guards in the game, Oliver held his own on this play using his strength in his lower body to stay in his gap and stop the run:
Oliver despite not having the flashiest campaign in 2019 was very solid and he was one of the best rookie defensive lineman on the season.
With a full offseason to improve and a more established role heading into 2020, there is no doubt in my mind that Oliver has a much bigger impact next season.