Isaiah Oliver was born with athletic bloodlines. His father, Muhammad, was a world-class decathlete. He was drafted in the ninth round of the 1992 draft and played in the NFL for five seasons. Not only is Isaiah a stand out on the football field, but he is also a high level track athlete. Oliver was a member of Colorado’s track team for two seasons and was a two time All Pac-12 performer.
Oliver’s work on the football field was just as impressive. He was part of a lock down secondary in 2016, which had three players drafted in 2017. Oliver completed his Buffs career with three interceptions, twenty five pass breakups, and one forced fumble.
The first thing that jumps out about Oliver is his length. He has a tall stature with long arms to disrupt any receiver at the line of scrimmage. Oliver’s ball skills might be questioned because of his poor interception total, but he plays the ball very well when it’s in the air.
Oliver is patient in his back pedal, but he’s also physical with the receiver at the catch point. Due to his athleticism, he’s always in close proximity with pass catchers on vertical routes.
Press, mirror, flip hips, high point the ball, and finish pic.twitter.com/l4tFeweFrN— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) February 15, 2018
This rep is a replica of every secondary coach’s teaching point. Oliver lands a punch within five yards, stays on the hip of the receiver, flips his hips, high points the ball, and finishes with a pass deflection.
Even when it looks like there’s room for a long completion against Oliver, he makes an acrobatic play on the ball.
Oliver is facing fellow draft prospect, Michael Gallup, on this rep. Oliver has a huge margin for error due to his outstanding recovery speed. Gallup initially beats him off the line and looks to have a step. However, Oliver makes up for it and plays the ball in the air to cause an incompletion.
The above reps show that Oliver knows how to play the ball. He plays the ball through the catch attempt. He has strong hands, which improves his overall ball skills. When Oliver is making consistent plays on the ball then the interceptions will eventually come.
Oliver stands to improve on in breaking routes. He has a habit of opening his hips up too early, which immediately causes him to lose his leverage. This is not an easy route for Oliver to cover, but he needs to show better balance within his coverage. The reception would have been a big gain, but because he’s losing his feet it turns into a touchdown.
Here is another example of Oliver opening his hips up inside too early. Like I mentioned earlier, Oliver’s make up speed allow him to challenge any route. However, if he wants to become a complete corner then he needs to mirror routes more effectively. Full disclosure, this particular play had the receiver penalized for offensive pass interference. I don’t think there’s any question it was a bad call.
USC motions the WR, but Oliver stays home which means zone. USC has slot run a deep drive route towards Oliver's area. Oliver's eyes get lazy and he's beat over the top. pic.twitter.com/81CaBV3wyF— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) January 20, 2018
The final area where Oliver needs to show more consistency is in off coverage zone. He’s excellent when he uses his length at the line to disrupt routes. He has to show more discipline against corner routes in zone. It’s not like he can’t do it. He can. He has all of the athletic ability in the world, but executing zone coverages come down to staying low in your stance and reading the quarterback’s eyes.
Grade and fit with Carolina
The Panthers can certainly improve at the outside cornerback position. It remains to be seen if new defensive coordinator, Eric Washington, favors more man or zone. Washington has all the tools to be a successful corner in man coverage. However, he has to show better awareness in zone to fully maximize his potential. With that said, given the explosive offenses in the division, Oliver makes a lot of sense for Carolina. His athleticism makes him more appealing as a prospect too.
2017 vs UCLA
2017 vs USC
2017 vs Utah
2017 vs Washington State
2017 vs Colorado State
- 95+: HOF talent
- 90-94.99: Future All Pro
- 80-89.99: Future Pro Bowler
- 70-79.99: Day 1 starter
- 60-69.99: Potential year one starter/year two potential starter
- 55-59.99: Potential to make a roster
- 54.99 lower: Training Camp/depth player
My final grade for Oliver is 73, which amounts to a day one starter.
What about you, Panthers fans? Do you think the Panthers should draft Isaiah Oliver?
Should the Panthers draft Isaiah Oliver?
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