Football Sports

Former Cougars settle into NFL homes

Ed Oliver, along with two former teammates, is heading into NFL minicamps for the first time. | File photo/The Cougar

Ed Oliver, along with two former teammates, headed into NFL minicamps for the first time last week. | File photo/The Cougar


For the third time in four years, three Houston Cougars were selected in the NFL Draft, as defensive tackle Ed Oliver, defensive back Isaiah Johnson and linebacker Emeke Egbule were all picked up.

With June 11-13’s league-wide mandatory minicamps now over, the former UH players have began to settle into their respective NFL homes.

Despite Oliver beginning his NFL career on a good mark as the No. 9 overall pick — the highest a Cougar has gone since quarterback David Klingler was taken at No. 6 by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1992 — the three-time All-American was sidelined from opening activities with a “sore shoulder,” according to his new squad, the Buffalo Bills. 

The 6’3″, 290-pound 21-year-old returned to his stomping ground Tuesday, however, where CBS Sports spotted him working with the Bills’ second-team defense in a full-contact jersey.

Oliver’s injury was likely a minor one and is not expected to have a long-term effect on him. With this in mind and the potential he showed in his three years at UH, Oliver will likely find himself in a starting role on the defensive line this season and should be a menace for most quarterbacks and running backs alike.

The former All-American did miss five games in the 2018 season with injuries, so staying healthy will be the most crucial aspect to the longevity of Oliver’s career on Sundays.

On the West Coast, the Oakland Raiders selected Johnson No. 129 overall in the fourth round. Like his former teammate, Johnson, who measured in at 6’4”, 203 pounds, has been plagued with an injury preventing him from much field time this offseason. It remains unclear what that injury is.

While his activity for his new team has been minimal, the general consensus around Oakland is that Johnson could prosper into a regular starter and perhaps an elite cornerback in the league. As of now, the 23-year-old is expected to be a backup, but a few impressive performances could see him making his way to the starting lineup quickly.

According to, a scouting website for the Draft Combine, Johnson was the sixth-most athletic player in his position at the 2019 NFL Combine. Johnson put up promising numbers at the event, including a 4.4 40-yard dash, which highlights his athletic potential.

Two rounds later, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Egbule with the No. 27 pick of the sixth round, making him the No. 200 player chosen this year.

Egbule, having played in a 3-4 defense for some of his time in Houston, will have to adapt to the Chargers’ 4-3 defense. The general consensus is that he will find himself as a backup to 36-year-old Thomas Davis Sr. in the strongside linebacker slot.

While the Chargers have experience returning to their defensive front, Egbule should expect to see promising and beneficial minutes as a backup. At just 22, the 240-pound linebacker has a lot to learn and a lot to show. With an arm reach of 33 inches and hands measuring nine-and-a-quarter-inches, Egbule has plenty of upside going into this season.

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