ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills filled a key need along their defensive line by selecting Houston tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in the NFL draft.
Oliver is listed at 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds, was a three-time All-AAC player who didn’t have a great 2018 season after being dominant during his first two years at Houston. He was awarded the Outland Trophy in 2017, given to the nation’s best interior lineman, and also earned AAC defensive player of the year honors.
He was a three-time All-America selection and led the FBS by combining for 50 tackles for loss or no gain over the last three years.
In 2017, Oliver was credited with 73 tackles, 16 1/2 tackles for a loss and 5 1/2 sacks in 12 games.
Oliver joins a defense that allowed the second fewest yards will immediately have the opportunity to fill a key need after veteran leader Kyle Williams retired after his 13th season.
One draft report, on the NFL’s website , calls Oliver a “twitched-up ball of explosive fury from the moment he comes out of his stance.”
But he could lack relative NFL size and length.
Oliver becomes the first defensive tackle selected in the first round by Buffalo since the team drafted Marcell Dareus with the third pick in 2011.
The Bills have nine picks left and spread over the final six rounds, including the 40th overall pick in the second round.
Buffalo entered the draft after spending much of the past six weeks stockpiling free agents to upgrade what had been a young and patchwork roster that led to a 6-10 finish last year. The Bills signed a whopping 18 veteran free agents, including six offensive linemen.
The large number of additions came after GM Brandon Beane spent his first two seasons overhauling the roster by purging high-priced veterans and clearing room under the salary cap. Beane’s objective was to rebuild the Bills through the draft and fix what had been an unbalanced payroll structure he inherited from his predecessor Doug Whaley, who was fired a day after the 2017 draft.
The overhaul leaves Buffalo with five players — and just one draft pick, defensive end Shaq Lawson — on the roster during Whaley and coach Rex Ryan’s final season in 2016.