If you got a chuckle out of the premise that Ed Oliver, Houston's uber-athlete defensive tackle, could actually perhaps play linebacker in the NFL, it might be time to stop laughing.
Not only has he confirmed being asked by at least one team (Tennessee Titans) about playing on the edge at the next level, after dropping six pounds for his pro day Thursday, Oliver ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.73 seconds and, more amazingly, posted a short shuttle time of 4.22 and 7.15 three-cone time.
Only one defensive lineman — the presumptive top non-QB pick in April's draft Nick Bosa — was faster in Indy, and only two EDGE defenders — Michigan's Chase Winovich (4.11) and Eastern Michigan's Maxx Crosby (4.13) — posted better short-shuttle times than Oliver, who is 26 pounds heavier than the Michigan men and 15 pounds heavier than Bosa. Oliver's 7.15-second three-cone time would have been top five among all linemen at the combine.
The most frequent athletic comparison for Oliver, even prior to his ridiculous pro day, was Aaron Donald, the Rams' two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who logged a 4.68 40, 7.11 three-cone and 4.39-second short shuttle at 285 pounds at the 2014 combine before somehow falling to No. 13 overall.
Unlike Oliver, whose effort and production were both inconsistent in his final season at Houston, Donald was an absolute monster on film but didn't meet certain teams' size thresholds for the position. Suffice to say, those teams likely have reconsidered their rigidness since, as Donald undoubtedly would be the first overall player selected if that draft were held again today.
Which gets us back to Oliver's size and position. It says here he should be a three-tech in the NFL, where his disruption can be maximized and his path to the quarterback is the shortest. But it's now clear from his absurd pre-draft workouts, which also includes a J.J. Watt-like 36-inch vertical and 120-inch broad jump — unrivaled at this year's combine by peers of his stature — that Oliver has the athleticism to play anywhere in the front seven.