Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Current Roster and Ranks
Before we get into what the Detroit Lions should do with the 8th pick in the draft, we should first look at how they fared last year as well as the roster composition.
Traditional YPG Stats (Rank) / (2017 Rank)
Efficiency Stats (Rank) / (2017 Rank)
*DVOA Statistics per Football Outsiders
It is surprising to see that a team with a productive rookie RB, an up-and-coming WR and two solid veteran WRs (at least until the Tate trade) would finish so low in both offensive yardage and efficiency stats. The loss of Stafford’s security blanket (Tate), combined with injuries and ineffective play, led to a subpar offensive season and eventual dismissal of OC Jim Bob Cooter.
From a roster perspective, Detroit seems to be in good shape as they have invested first round picks in the line with Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow. Matt Stafford remains a solid, but turnover prone QB. Despite his talent, he has never led the Lions to a playoff victory (ironically in part due to a bad PI non-call which would now be reviewed and have made the Dez Bryant catch rule moot). Stafford has solid to good weapons around him in Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick in the backfield, with Golladay and Jones outside. Danny Amendola replaces Golden Tate in the slot and should prove to be an effective outlet for Stafford and help Matt Patricia bring ”the Patriot Way” to Detroit. If only they had a stud early first round TE that could help move the chains and score in the red zone… oops, maybe you should have used that Ebron guy a little better while you had him.
On the defensive side, like the Chip Kelly teams of old, Detroit demonstrated that yards don’t matter in 2018. Just by looking at the numbers, you can tell that Detroit tried to use their rush offense to slow the game down and limit the number of plays their defense faced. The stats further prove this as the Lions D faced the fewest opponent plays per game at 58.9, compared to 64.8 plays faced per game in 2017.
Strong play from the defensive tackles led to solid play against the run, but lack of pass rush due to Ziggy Ansah’s injury, hurt the pass defense. Adding Trey Flowers should help the pass rush and also allow Patricia to vary the fronts similar to what he did in New England. Darius Slay remains a very good CB, but the rest of the secondary leaves much to be desired.
It’s unfortunate for the Lions that their biggest needs don’t line up to best available players in this draft. The Lions biggest holes are at TE and CB, but with apologies to TJ Hockenson, no player matches the value of the #8 pick. [Note: for anyone that disagrees on Hockenson, please point to the last top 10 TE pick that became a true difference maker and was worthy of the selection]. There have been rumblings about a trade down with Atlanta at pick 14, where it would be better value to draft a TE (Hockenson/Fant) or CB (Greedy Williams/Byron Murphy). However, in this mock draft, we’re not allowed trades. Detroit could also use a boost in their pass rush. The run on defensive ends has left Brian Burns as the last available DE worthy of a top 10 pick. So naturally, with the 8th pick in the draft, the Detroit Lions select…. Ed Oliver, DT, University of Houston.
Wait a second, why would Detroit use a pick on a DT when they already have A’Shawn Robinson and Snacks Harrison? Games are won in the trenches and Ed Oliver is the best player available. Oliver should provide help to the entire line by playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Simply put, Ed Oliver is an athletic freak of nature. A brief comparison of his athletic traits from his combine and Pro Day:
Mockdraftable Spider Chart & Comparisons *
* Note: Oliver did most of his tests at his Pro Day instead of the Combine and those stats are not reflected in his Spider Chart or Comparisons
Oliver does have a smaller frame, otherwise he would surely be a top 5 pick. At 6’1-7/8” and 287 lbs, he ranks in the 10th percentile in height and 50th percentile in weight for defensive tackles. He also lacks the wingspan that GMs love (long levers are strong levers and all that…). Detractors will point to the fact that he finished his college career with only 13.5 sacks. Couple that with disagreements with the coaching staff over team rules and you can see why he may slip. So why should the Lions invest in Oliver when they have capable starting DTs in A’Shawn Robinson and Snacks Harrison? They should do it because you don’t get a second chance to draft players like Ed Oliver. Ask any team if they would prefer to have their original pick over guys like Aaron Donald, JJ Watt or Warren Sapp.
Oliver is a natural 3-technique DT that lined up as a NT (0-tech) at Houston. He won the Outland Award in 2017 as the best interior lineman in the country. Combining him on a line with Snacks Harrison and Trey Flowers gives Matt Patricia the ability to flip between even and odd fronts. He can win with quickness or win with power and his development will be something to watch. In college, opposing teams dedicated as many as three blockers and Oliver still made 53.0 tackles for loss in 32 career games.
Games are won or lost in the trenches and Oliver lives in the opposing backfield. From a resource perspective, the Lions would be much better served by grabbing Oliver in the first round and then addressing one of their main positions of need in the second round. Available options in round two could include: Chase Winovich, Jachai Polite, Deandre Baker, Deionte Thompson, Irv Smith or Jace Sternberger. Trading down may seem like the right plan, but you don’t win without talent and Oliver has that in spades.
I had planned to do individual gifs in the same manner as BGNs Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL), Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) and Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) do on twitter. However, I didn’t have the time, and I don’t have the skill, to break down the film the way they do! Instead, please enjoy the following breakdown from Fran and highlight video:
Meet the Prospect: Ed Oliver
Bonus: What will actually happen
Detroit will trade down a few spots and pick either Hockenson or Greedy Williams. They will be praised for getting “great value” in the trade down. Neither player will end up being as good as Oliver. There is a reason bad teams stay bad.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Cardinals (Philliesandthebees): Kyler Murray
2) 49ers (SakPrescott): Nick Bosa
3) Jets (thealien2696): Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders (SisyphusNoMore): Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers (EAGLESBSU): Montez Sweat
6) Giants (ablesser88): Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars (20Safety_Hazards): Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions (89Tremaine): Ed Oliver
9) Bills (drc242):
10) Broncos (ItownBallers22):
11) Bengals (Phoenix X Maximus):
12) Packers (Palaniappan K M)
13) Bengals (wildcatlh):
14) Falcons (Happy24):
15) Washington (roberticus0):
16) Panthers (Triumph McCloud):
17) Giants (KevinDont):
19) Titans (Big Schmoopie):
20) Steelers (J. Wil):
21) Seahawks (NickfoleonDynamite):
22) Ravens (GMinTraining):
23) Texans (EaglesRock94)
24) Raiders (SummersInVA):
25) Eagles (I Need a Username):
26) Colts (Nolo0oo):
27) Raiders (SLC Eagle):
28) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!):
29) Chiefs (Boxer Madness):
30) Packers (Kephas):
31) Rams (Matthieuck):
32) Patriots (Zett_66):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Lions should pick in the 2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Detroit Lions draft at No. 8 overall?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft
1) Cardinals: Kyler Murray
2) 49ers: Nick Bosa
3) Jets: Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders: Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers: Montez Sweat
6) Giants: Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor