First of all, we want to congratulate Isaiah Oliver, who deserves his spot in the NFL draft. Second, we want to help Atlanta Falcons fans get excited about a player we have been lucky enough to watch develop into an incredible player.
1. A do-it-all athlete who’s ready to compete
Oliver’s comes into Atlanta looking to contribute alongside Desmond Trufant, Keanu Neal and Robert Alford in the secondary. The 6-foot, 200-pound cornerback made the best of his opportunities at Colorado as a three-year starter, recording a total of 71 tackles, 29 pass deflections and three interceptions. Last season, Oliver earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors by allowing opposing quarterbacks to 41.3% completion percentage while picking up two interceptions and 13 pass deflections. Any NFL coaches who recognizes Oliver’s potential sees the value of in his progression coming from Colorado’s 3-4 hybrid defense that resembles NFL schemes. A steady defender who’s able to diagnose plays on-the-fly along with making the proper adjustments in coverage.
2. Football I.Q. in his DNA
A former track champion, Oliver uses world-class speed to stay a step ahead of receivers, just like his father, Muhammad, did nearly three decades ago at Oregon. Both Isaiah and his father have excelled as dual-sport athletes during their respective college careers. Muhammad competed in the 1992 NCAA Track and Field Championship, finishing fourth in the decathlon before playing five seasons in the NFL. Isaiah was a three-time Arizona state track champion in the 110-and 330-meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay. Oliver was a two-time All-Pac-12 selection in the decathlon during his freshman and sophomore seasons at CU. Isaiah’s uncle, Damon Mays, also played wide receiver at Missouri and was a ninth-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 NFL Draft.
3. Oliver’s athleticism is a must-see
As evidenced by his on-field performance and success in track, Oliver is an absurd athlete. He only started one year at Colorado — the starters before him are starting in the NFL right now — but that was plenty of time for him to showcase his 4.5 speed, his ridiculous 6’8 wingspan, and superb aerial skills. He only had three interceptions in his career, but they were all must-see highlights. The first was a pick on a streak route where Oliver went from a dead sprint to a full-extension dive. The second was on a post route where Oliver caught up to the receiver, jumped up and snatched the ball one-handed in traffic. The third was on a hail mary and he reacted to the ball like he would a punt. (He may have been stat-padding on this play, but it’s fine, we thought it was amusing.) He has long excelled in press coverage, and in Marquand’s press-heavy defensive scheme, he should contribute immedialtey.
4. Potential to grow under Marquand Manuel’s system
Oliver has to be one of the hardest working players in this draft. As we detailed in his draft profile, Oliver only had two scholarship offers out of college — Colorado and New Mexico — because he was considered a raw prospect that flew under the radar. Colorado is known for developing NFL-quality defensive backs — there will be four or five former Buffs starting at cornerback next season — but that development is only possible if the player is willing to put in the hard work to realize their potential. Oliver is still considered raw, but if he can go from a two-star prospect to a second-round pick three years later, he should definitely be able to become a star.
5. Humble, down-to-earth Fortnite player
I personally don’t know what Fortnite is, but apparently it’s all the rage these days, especially within the Buffs locker room. Oliver is evidently one of the most gifted Fortniters (?) on this obsessed team.