With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, the NFL comparisons are emerging for all the 2019 prospects. One comparison that keeps being floated around is Ed Oliver and Aaron Donald.
Is this comparison warranted at all? Let’s take a look at both Oliver and Donald to see how similar or dissimilar they are as players.
First, let’s focus on Donald and his career so far. In 2014, the Los Angeles Rams selected Donald with the 13th pick in the NFL Draft.
How did the best defensive player in the NFL fall to the 13th pick in the draft, you say? Who knows, because he aced the NFL Combine and the Senior Bowl.
At the NFL Combine, Donald wowed viewers with a 4.68 40-yard dash time and 35 bench-press reps. He also measured out at 6-1 and 285 pounds, making teams worried about his small stature for a defensive lineman.
The Rams lucked out when other teams passed on the All-Pro defensive lineman. Since then, he’s been the best defensive player in the league, winning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards in 2017 and 2018.
Donald is a wrecking ball on defense and a sack machine as a defensive tackle. In five seasons, Donald has 59.5 sacks, 97 tackles for loss, and 13 forced fumbles.
That’s an interior lineman. An interior lineman. Donald is an anomaly: a guy who plays in the trenches and is a problem when he rushes the passer.
What makes Donald so good is that he uses his lack of height to get leverage. He has the quickest get-off in the league. His ability to time the snap of the ball is otherworldly.
All of these characteristics are being used to describe Oliver out of college. Oliver played college football at the University of Houston.
At Houston, Oliver collected 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in three years with the school. He may be small in size, but he can pack a punch to opposing offensive linemen.
The talented interior lineman didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but he did run it at Houston’s Pro Day. He ran a 4.71 40-yard dash while measuring out at 6-2 and 287 pounds.
Those measurements are similar to Donald’s, but can Oliver be the next Donald? I hate comparisons around this time of the year, and I’ve seen plenty of people mention these two in the same sentence.
In addition, these commentators either make the comparison and put Oliver down, saying he can’t be Donald, or they say he can be Donald, giving him unwarranted expectations to reach.
It’s pretty hard to come into the NFL and dominate the way Donald has. Yet, I would not be surprised one bit if Oliver immediately makes a lasting impact with the team that picks him.
Regardless, if Oliver isn’t the next Donald, he is going to be a very talented player in the NFL. He will be a versatile defensive lineman who is explosive in the interior, similar to Donald.
Oliver could be one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL if he continues to develop his game in the trenches as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has. Whether Oliver is the next Donald or not? We will see in the years to come.