Bills’ Oliver: ‘I feel like I could have played in the league after my freshman year’

The Buffalo Bills may have gotten the most dominant defensive player in the draft when they grabbed former University of Houston DT Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in the first round on Thursday night. With Oliver, the Bills may have found their replacement for the recently retired DT Kyle Williams.

Oliver finished his career at Houston with 192 total tackles and 13.5 sacks. He was dominant in college, and for Bills fans, hopefully, he can be dominant in the NFL.

On Friday, Oliver met the Buffalo media. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What are your first thoughts on the building and what you’ve seen so far today?

A: I’m just so excited to be here. It’s everything that I thought it was going to be, plus more. I’ve met everybody. I’ve met the Pegula’s. Great people in this building – defensive coordinator, head coach, defensive line coach, I met everybody today. Again, it’s everything I expected.

Q: Ed, you talked about yesterday that you prayed to be a Buffalo Bill, but it still took eight picks. When the Jets, when the Giants, when the Lions, the Jags were on the board, were you hoping that your phone wasn’t going to ring?

A: I mean, nobody hopes that. It was just… I knew if I was on the board and I got to the Bills, I pretty much knew they were going to take me. I pretty much knew that’s where I was going to go. It was just a waiting game. Just pick by pick, I just had to wait.

Q: Talk about how prepared you feel to make this next step and compete at this level.

A: I feel like it’s a long time coming. I feel like I could have played in the league after my freshman year. It is just another waiting game. I had to play two more years before I was able to come out. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for two years to actually get a chance to step on an NFL field and play and compete. I’m just ready to go.

Q: I heard a lot last night about how they think you’re going to fit into the system in the three-technique. Let’s hear it from your end – how do you think you’re going to fit into the defense based on what you know of it so far?

A: I just want to come in and compete and earn trust from the guys around me and earn my coaches’ trust. I haven’t set any real goals or expectations. I just want to come in and compete and ultimately help the team win.

Q: Ed, a lot of us in the media has looked at this pick as sort of a way of replacing Kyle Williams for the Bills. I would imagine that that puts some pressure on you. What do you think when you hear that – that you are Kyle Williams’ replacement?

A: What do I think when I hear that I’m Kyle Williams’ replacement? I think that Kyle Williams is a great player. I think Kyle Williams will wear a gold jacket one day. I just want to come in and compete and help the team in any way possible. I don’t even think about that. Kyle Williams is in a league of his own that I haven’t even come close to touching. I just want to come in and compete.

Q: Does it put an extra layer of pressure on you at all?

A: No sir.

Q: I’m sure you received a lot of congratulatory messages on social media, but have any of your teammates reached out to you so far personally? Have you spoken to any of them so far?

A: Actually, Kyle Williams hit me up last night and was basically letting me know that everything was going to be all right and if I needed anything, to hit him up. I told him that I wanted to pick his brain a little bit, see what kept him around for so long, see if he has anything he can teach me.

Q: Kyle is a legend here. How much does that mean to you to have him be that first person to extend that hand?

A: It’s great. There’s not much more to say about it. He’s gold in his own right. Just him taking the time out of his day, he didn’t have to do that. It’s an honor.

Q: Ed, how did Kyle get ahold of you?

A: I’m not sure how he got my number, but he got it, and that’s all that matters.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about your weight and playing light, playing heavy. What would you like to play at in the NFL? Where would you like to be?

A: I just want to play. I don’t think weight is going to make a difference. I just want to play the game and help out in any way possible.

Q: You’ve had a lot of fans excited about this pick due to the fact that you fell to the Bills at no. 9. What is your message to Bills Mafia and Bills fans here?

A: I can’t wait to see them in action. I’ve heard about how crazy they can get and how fired up they can get. I just want to see it for myself and be influenced by it.

Q: You talked about how Kyle Williams is in another league. When did you develop that sort of humility in terms of guys who have been there and done that? Learned from them, maybe absorbed something from them?

A: You get the humility when the guy has been in the league for 13 years, when guys become the face of their organization. In no way possible am I Kyle Williams. He is great in his own right. I just want to come in and compete.

Q: What is your sense of this franchise? It went through a tough stretch in 17 years without making the playoffs, but they made it two years ago and are rebuilding through youth. What is your sense of what the Bills stand for to you before compared to now that you are here?

A: Before I got here, really before getting drafted, I really didn’t watch NFL football. But now that I’m learning a little bit of history, learning about what the guys have been through and things like that, I feel like they have a good thing going here. I know they had the #2 defense last year. Hopefully, I can just fit in in any way possible and help out.

Q: Sean [McDermott] said that he plans to use you differently here versus how he used you in Houston. Have you guys talked a little bit more about that in terms of what your role is going to be?

A: Not in depth, besides the fact that I won’t be playing nose guard. I’ll be playing three-technique or wherever he feels comfortable. I know it won’t be nose guard.

Q: What you think, from a technique standpoint, from a strengths-of-your-game standpoint, what you bring to the table and how you might fit in this defense?

A: Probably explosiveness, athleticism, something you can’t find in every defensive tackle. I feel like my skillset is rare. It’s a rare combination of size and speed. I feel I can help the guys rushing outside by getting pressure up the middle and helping the guys outside get sacks. Help out the team. You get sacks, you win games.

Q: Everybody that has seen you play extensively, one thing that keeps coming up is ‘motor.’ ‘He’s got a relentless motor. He never stops’ Where does that relentless work ethic come from?

A: It dates back from high school. For me to get on the field, I played in Texas high school football, and if you don’t know, it’s relentless. For you to get on the field, you have to be special in your own right. What I could do better than everybody else was run around and play as hard as possible. That’s one thing that just stuck with me.

Q: I’ve heard a lot of people comparing you to Aaron Donald, some comparing you to John Randall. Is there somebody that you model your game after that you’ve really watched?

A: I mean, I watch every defensive lineman. When I turn on a game, it’s hard for me to watch any DB’s [defensive backs] or anything like that. All I want to do is watch the D-line. It doesn’t matter who it is: if you’re playing good football and the moves you use are working, I’ll steal from you and try to use it in my game.

Q: You look a lot like Aaron Donald: your body, your size, your weight. Have you looked at him a little bit, studied his game tape, and compared yourself to him at all?

A: Of course. Everybody watches Aaron Donald. But I’m not going to say I’m going to circle my life around Aaron Donald. I’m pretty sure Aaron Donald gets some of his stuff from other guys. You have to be versatile in who you’re watching and you can’t just focus on one player and try to emulate him.

Q: How eager are you looking forward to lining up against men for the first time in pads to see where you stand? Is there any anxiousness or eagerness?

A: Like I said, I’ve been waiting since after my freshman year in college. Everybody talks about how I went to [the University of] Houston and is not a good talent, so I just want to see, ‘Was it true? Were the guys I was playing against not good?’ I just want to see.

Q: You’ve got a couple of those guys here on your team that you played against. Dion Dawkins from Temple, Zay Jones from East Carolina. Now, you’re joining them. What does it say about the American Athletic Conference?

A: It says that we’re taking steps in the right way and we should be a power-six conference. We played against good competition, so that’s why I’m just ready to play against guys who went to SEC schools, BIG 12 schools, wherever they went. There’s no hiding in the NFL. Everybody is in the same league. I just want to know what they’re going to say after.

Q: You had two seasons to play alongside your oldest brother, Marcus. What was that experience like in getting to call him a teammate at the college level? How did he impact your development? What type of role did he have?

A: As an older brother, he went to school first. I just picked his brain about everything to expect. That’s kind of how I was able to come in so fast and be so productive so early was because I knew what was expected of me. Basically, I had the cheat code, so all I had to do was come in and do what was expected.

Q: You’re going to be playing in front of Tremaine Edmunds, who is twenty-years-old. Have you had a chance to watch him at all on film? What have you seen of Tremaine?

A: I haven’t gotten a chance to watch him on film, but I’ve heard he’s a dog.

Q: Ed, how do you handle the doubters so far in this process? People who call you undersized and not the typical size for a defensive lineman, how do you use that as a chip moving forward as your NFL career begins?

A: I’ve had to deal with that since high school, coming out: ‘He’s a bit small.’ I never leave the house without the chip on my shoulder. It’s something that I walk around with every day. I know as quickly as it is given to you, the quicker it can be taken away in terms of your status on the football field. I go hard every time I touch the field.

Q: Coming to the AFC East, you’re going to be going up against the Patriots twice per year. What do you make of trying to get after a guy like Tom Brady in those games?

A: It’s an honor to even be on the same playing field as someone who is going to wear a gold jacket. I just want to play.

Q: What led you to Houston? What led you to a school that was maybe not one of the so-called ‘big schools?’

A: Ultimately, my brother being there. Just as simple as that. In its simplest form, just my brother being there.

Q: Ed, are you happy that this whole Draft process is over? What’s it been like over these past few months wondering, going on visits, things like that that now you know where you are going to be?

A: It’s just like I found my home. Or my home found me, rather. I got the call last night, I didn’t get to call them. I just found my home.

Q: When was the first time that it went through your mind that you wanted to stand on your horse?

A: Probably about five seconds before I stood on the horse.

Q: Why did you want to do that?

A: Because it’s different. Anybody could take a picture on a horse, but when you stand up on a horse, you must know what you’re doing. A horse-whisperer.

Q: What do you make of the new facilities that they have made here? The new training center, the new weight room?

A: It’s absolutely awesome. Top-notch. It’s better than probably 99 percent of colleges, and that’s how colleges recruit. I had no idea why it was so nice, honestly, but it’s amazing.

Q: If you haven’t been able to tell already, it seems like your selection was very popular among Bills fans. It seems like you wanted this just as much. That’s something that is important to a lot of fans. Is it safe to say you wanted to be here as part of this organization, part of this city?

A: I’m just happy that they were happy with me. I’ve seen some picks where guys get booed. When I heard the cheering before I walked through the tunnel, I could hear it when they called my name, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ It had me pumped up. I was just happy to walk out there and have people cheer for me.

Q: A lot has been written about your love of horses. When you think about what that has done for you over time, your love for animals, I know you have a dog…

A: You know what’s crazy? I got on my horse the day of the Draft. That morning, I wanted to go ride horses because it just eased my nerves. That whole day, I was relaxed. I wanted to go ride horses a little bit in the morning time, kind of get away a little bit. But when I came back to the Draft, I was fine. Got dressed, went out there. I wasn’t nervous one bit.

Q: Where were you able to find a horse in Nashville?

A: KB Ranch. It’s a ranch out there in Tennessee. It’s where I did the commercial for ESPN.

Q: Ed, is it more exciting joining an unproven team knowing you could play a big part in helping them reach that next level as opposed to joining a veteran team that is kind of already at that next level? Is it more exciting knowing that you have that opportunity?

A: It’s exciting just being here. Whether proven or unproven, it’s a blessing. I’m honored to be here.

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