With the 69th overall pick in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Josh Oliver, tight end, from Paso Robles. Oliver is only the third athlete from the North County to be selected in the NFL Draft and first in the first three rounds with the last one coming in 2014 when the St. Louis Rams selected Mitchell Van Dye in the seventh round.
Huddled around his closest friends and family at his parents' house in Paso Robles, Oliver waited for his phone buzz and for his life to change forever.
“I was pretty much in the dark [before getting drafted],” Oliver said on Wednesday. “I got a text from the Giants coach before the draft saying good luck and stuff like that, the Vikings coach would text me some stuff but other than that I was pretty much in the dark and didn’t know who was going to take me. My agent gave me an estimate of the range that I was going to go from in terms of picks but other than that I had no clue.”
Like many players on draft day, Oliver had an idea of when he might go in the draft based on numbers that came from his agent but in most cases players have a short list of teams that are interested based on the meetings and visits they had in the pre-draft process. The former Bearcat turned San Jose State Spartan was no ordinary prospect in this year’s draft and because of that his pre-draft process was spent flying all over the country as he had individual workouts and pre-draft interviews with a number of teams. Oliver met with the Denver Broncos, the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers and of course, the Jacksonville Jaguars just to name a few.
“The pre-draft was pretty crazy I ended up having several workouts, pre-draft workouts and individual workouts which is a lot. I think every team I visited said that was a lot of workouts and then I had five visits so it was a busy little time between the pro day and the draft,” Oliver said.
Each visit was a little different from the next as each team wanted to get to know their potential investment a little more and figure out how exactly Oliver could fit into their offense.
“Each workout is kind of different but for the most part you will go in the classroom with them for however long they want to go into the classroom,” Oliver described. “And then after that, you will go out onto the field and work some stuff in their offense or just some stuff they want to watch you do. It all depends on who comes out, sometimes it’s the coach, sometimes it is the coach and GM or OC, it all depends.”
After all the workouts and meetings were finished it was time for the former CIF champion to play the waiting game. The wait didn’t last long as Oliver was projected to go early in the third round and was taken with the fifth pick in the round and 69th overall. When his phone began buzzing it was Super Bowl-winning coach and current VP of Football Operations for the Jaguars, Tom Coughlin, on the other line letting Oliver know his dreams were about to come true.
“It’s an unspeakable feeling,” He said. “I can't really put it into words, the first person I probably hugged was my parents because they have been through it all with me. It was crazy just really coming to terms, I mean, it is something you work for all your life and then it happens so it is just a huge blessing you have to thank God.”
Oliver is currently in Paso Robles seeing old friends and family before he will head out to Florida on Wednesday and begin rookie OTA’s on Friday. As a current NFL football player Oliver has also taken his seat at the head of the local celebrity table and is honored to be an example for the athletes in this area. For many the news of a local player getting drafted is just that, news, but for athletes around the area, Oliver means much more than that. He is a symbol and an example that if you put the work in you can make it all the way to the top even when you come from a town that you describe as halfway between San Francisco and LA because no one has ever heard of it.
“It is just a huge honor to be someone that people want to look to for inspiration,” Oliver said. “Or just be able to connect to because I am from the same city as them. I think it is a huge honor to be that and I just want to be the best role model I can be honestly.”
Not only was Oliver drafted high, but he is in a great position to make a huge impact on the team immediately. The All-Mountain West tight end does his best work through the air and is now being paired with a quarterback in Nick Foles that force feeds his big-bodied weapons. Looking at the depth chart it seems that Oliver will slide right into the Jaguars No. 1 tight end position, especially when it comes to receiving, with the other tight ends on their roster all being journeyman-type guys who have spent time on the practice squad.
“I am stoked to just come in and compete for a spot,” he said. “And I am really excited for the way they use the tight end, I think it is a really good fit. We had talked about it on my visit before with them about how they see me in their offense and how John [DeFillippo] sees me in their offense. He told me they are going to try and use me the way they used Zach Ertz in Philadelphia and I am just really excited for it.”
Oliver is unquestionably the highest draft pick that Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo County has seen and will join former Bearcats great Don Parish as the only two local players to go in the first four rounds, Parish was drafted 91st overall in 1970.