Full name Melvin Oliver
School: Louisiana State
Position: Defensive end
Year: Fifth-year senior
40-yard dash: 5.10 seconds
Biography: Two-year starter for Tigers who was used at both tackle and end. Has experience playing defensive tackle on downs with pass-heavy tendencies. Played in 52 games for the Tigers, starting 24 times, including all 13 games as a senior and 10 times as a junior. Finished career with 20 sacks, which ties as the fourth-highest total in school history. Had a total of 26.5 tackles for losses during his career. Combined with Kyle Williams, Claude Wroten and Chase Pittman to give LSU one of the most dominant defensive fronts in college football last season. Led all Tiger defensive linemen with 67 tackles, nine sacks and 11 tackles for losses. The nine sacks tie for the seventh-highest single-season total in school history. Was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Arkansas. Capped his career with Tigers by being named Defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl after recording five tackles, including two tackles for losses and a sack in the 40-3 LSU win. Had impressive redshirt freshman season in 2002, earning second-team Freshman All-American honors by the Sporting News.
Positives: Oliver is a productive defensive lineman coming off a breakout senior campaign. Plays low with leverage, quickly gets off the snap and is rarely off his feet. Collapses laterally defending the run and is relentless in pursuit of the ball handler. Displays speed off the edge and immediately locates the ball. He possesses advantageous size and is solid anchoring against the run when lined up at defensive end. Takes adequate pursuit angles and has the skill to close down cutback lanes. Has shown flashes of ability to collapse the pocket when rushing the passer. Is a good athlete with the quick feet and playing speed to chase down ball carriers on runs away between the offensive tackles. He flashes ability to beat one-on-one pass blocks with hand use and quick feet. He has good instincts, which combine with his athleticism to let him 'Peel' off rush to pick up the running back on short dump-off passes. He is a versatile defensive linemen who has experience lining up at end and sliding inside to defensive tackle on passing downs.
Negatives: He lacks the speed and explosiveness off the ball to be a NFL edge rusher, and doesn't have optimum size to play tackle. Works hard in the weight room yet does not translate that strength onto the field. Not fluid moving about the field, and he does not cover a large area. Doesn't always hustle at a consistent level. Can be driven off the ball too easily, getting pinned inside by side/seal blocks and driven down the line of scrimmage. He does not use his hands well vs. blockers and struggles to shed quick enough.
Analysis: Cranking up his play last season, Oliver is a prospect who can defend both the run and pass and offers potential as a two-gap end in a 3-4 defense or could back up as a five-technique lineman. Has had some character issues in the past, but they didn't cause 49ers coach Mike Nolan to red-flag him. Oliver is ideally suited to be tried as a strong-side defensive end because he has the strength to hold up as an end and the athleticism to avoid pass blocking offensive tackles out in space, and that is likely how the 49ers will attempt to use him.
Niners No. 6c pick: Melvin Oliver
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