Oliver played 42 defensive snaps but did not record a tackle or sack during Sunday's loss to the Patriots. While the No. 9 overall pick in April hasn't taken the league by storm yet, the Bills coaches seemed pleased with Oliver's play even though he's yet to get to the quarterback and has only five tackles through his first four NFL games. More specifically, he's not getting caught out of position on too many occasions and he's doing a decent job clogging up space. The numbers will come around, but for now, Oliver is far removed from the IDP radar. He's gotten between 59 and 65 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the team's games so far.
Oliver has taken over a starting defensive tackle spot, a role that had temporarily been helped by veteran Jordan Phillips, Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News reports. Coach Leslie Frazier was actually referring to Phillips' new backup role in the article, but it's become clear based on playing time, practice reps and the coaching staff's comments that Oliver -- the No. 9 overall pick in April -- will be the starter for the regular season. While it's hard to pile up stats from an interior position, Oliver has the skill set and ability to eventually do it better than most defensive tackles.
Oliver was wearing a non-contact jersey during Tuesday's practice due to shoulder soreness, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. The Bills don't appear to be too concerned with the soreness Oliver is battling, and the fact that Oliver was still out there practicing suggests that the injury to this year's first-rounder is a minor one.
Oliver signed his rookie contract Thursday, Chris Brown of the Bills' official site reports. Draft picks rarely hold out these days, but it's good to get any administrative headaches out of the way and the Bills did that with seven of their eight draft picks all in one day, nice and early in the process. Oliver can now get on with trying to win a starting defensive tackle job right away. Star Lotulelei is the plugger on the D-Line, while Oliver -- the No. 9 pick in the draft -- is expected to beat out Harrison and Jordan Phillips to earn the majority of the time as the other starter.
The Bills selected Oliver in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, ninth overall. Great pick. Oliver isn't a towering defensive tackle presence at just 6-foot-2, 287 pounds, but he's an exceptional athlete who was monstrously productive in college, showing NFL-level talent even in his first games as a true freshman in 2016. He finished that season with 22.5 tackles for loss in 13 games, and in each of his three seasons he averaged over six tackles per game while finishing his Houston career with 53.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 33 career games. In addition to that staggering production, Oliver boasts truly elite athleticism across the board -- a 4.73-second 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical, 120-inch broad jump and 11.37 agility score give Oliver explosiveness and quickness that even most linebackers would envy. Oliver could prove a memorably disruptive defensive tackle in the NFL and is definitely one of the best defensive prospects of recent memory. If his college production carries over to the NFL, he'll also be a standout IDP on the defensive line.
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