The former Houston standout answered all questions at the combine

UH's Ed Oliver aiming to "change the whole defense" when drafted

Cody Stoots/SportsMap

"Just the different swag I could bring to a d-line could probably change the whole defense honestly."

The words of Ed Oliver his next team will hope ring true with every snap he takes in the NFL. Speaking Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Oliver covered everything from the rumors of a position change to his relationship with both of the former Cougars head coaches.

The reports surfaced early Saturday Oliver had been asked to work out at linebacker in addition to his defensive line workouts. The future top-ten pick didn't shy away from the additional challenge.

"I've asked myself to play linebacker too," Oliver joked. "I'm a very athletic defensive tackle. You never know. I might end up playing linebacker in the league. I'm not going to object to it. I feel like I'm a d-lineman. I feel like I'm a 3-technique, but if they pay me to play linebacker that's what I'm gonna be doing, playing linebacker."

The Tennessee Titans asked Oliver to play outside linebacker in his meeting with the team.

While his positional future is up in the air his past came up. Oliver was seen in a shouting match with then Houston head coach Major Applewhite in the team's defeat of Tulane on national TV last season. What does he say when NFL teams ask him about the dust up?

"I answer like I've always answered," he said. "I answer 100 percent truthfully. It was what it was, it was a misunderstanding, we hashed it out a day later. I still keep in touch with Coach Applewhite, and he was my head coach."

Oliver said he still stays in touch with his first head coach at Houston, Tom Herman, the now Texas head coach.

"When (Herman and his staff left) I was proud of him," he said. "As a man you always want to better yourself and he left to better himself."

Oliver has been working to better himself towards an NFL career for years. Just last year he was projected to be the first overall pick in this year's draft but the chances of that are nearly gone.

"You're not the number one pick until you're drafted number one," he said. "I pretty much knew the size thing was going to come up so I never got into it."

Regardless of where he goes and who plays for or against Oliver plans to showoff his playing style which he detailed as fast and violent.

"I do everybody the same way," Oliver said. "Rather your TSU (Texas Southern) or Oklahoma my first game of college football. I play every game the same way just as violent just as fast just as hard."

The Oliver family will take in the draft from home despite the chance he could be one of the first players out of the green room if he attended the draft in Nashville. He said they will "rock out together as a family."

His family is what got him into horses at a young age. He saw someone riding a horse and requested one from his dad. Weeks later he had a horse of his own and still has a couple. He's also got a clear investment plan that aligns with his love of animals.

NFL teams are probably hoping Oliver is as ferocious as his eventual money-making steers.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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