No one doubts the raw athletic talent of Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver. It’s that raw talent that made him the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. But the Bills would like to see Oliver develop a mental approach to the game that matches his physical skills.
Bills defensive line coach Eric Washington suggested that what Oliver needs to do to take his game to the next level is mostly about the preparation that takes place off the field.
“Just continue to play the game as much as possible from the neck up,” Washington told the Buffalo News. “When you have the kind of talent Ed has, you have to understand situations that could mean the difference between separating yourself from the opponent [and saying], ‘I have to able to process very, very quickly so I can win my one-on-one so I can play ahead of the play as opposed to playing with the sequence of that particular play.’ With Ed, from an experience standpoint, we need him to play ahead as opposed to with the tempo of the play so [understanding] situations, certain nuances with certain calls and understanding where he can take advantage based on his position [is important].”
Oliver is heading into the fifth-year option season on his rookie contract, meaning he has a guaranteed base salary this year of $10.753 million, and he can hit free agency next year. A big year in 2023 will go a long way toward a big contract in 2024.