The Buffalo Bills needed a middle linebacker to lock down their defense, and they snagged one of the most athletic players in the draft to do it, with Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds. This player was considered a potential top-ten pick for much of the draft process, before falling to pick sixteen where the Bills traded for him. Edmunds started the past two seasons for the Hokies, showcasing his range with 215 tackles (32.5 for loss) over those seasons. He did that at 18 and 19 years old.
Edmunds is dripping with physical ability. He measures a full six-foot-five and 253 pounds, enviable size that could have him play anywhere from middle linebacker to JACK outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He has long 34.5-inch arms, and ran a 4.54 forty-yard dash at that size at the Combine. That athleticism manifests on the field. He has rare range, able to run down opponents from the backside of running plays or to click-and-close on passing plays in his zone.
Mentally, Edmunds shows exciting potential, but you can also see how much development remains when you compare him with a polished player like Roquan Smith. When the play is in front of him, Edmunds does a great job reading and reacting. But sometimes he keys on the ballcarrier and will miss the movements of offensive linemen, and his instincts aren’t the best against misdirection plays. Still young, Edmunds will overrun plays on occasion, and though he has outstanding size for the position, occasionally he has trouble absorbing and redirecting blocks at the line of scrimmage.
Edmunds follows the same pattern as Buffalo’s first selection, Josh Allen - he’s a high ceiling, athletic prospect at a position of serious need. The difference between the two players is that Edmunds can have plenty of impact on the field just through his range and tackle radius, while Allen will have to develop the mental part of his game just to play as a scratch starter.
In year one, Edmunds should push for (and likely earn) the starting middle linebacker spot in Sean McDermott’s attacking defense. His size and speed will make him a serious upgrade in man coverage over Preston Brown. Within three years, he could be a starter in any defensive scheme, and could be a headliner in Buffalo’s defense for a long time to come. The craziest part about all of this is that his rookie contract will end when he turns 24 years old - and some players will be entering the league at 24 in that season!