The selection of Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft received plenty of buzz for the Buffalo Bills, but Buffalo’s second first-round pick, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, has drawn rave reviews with his play in the offseason and through two weeks of the preseason.
Edmunds, selected No. 16 out of Virginia Tech, is barely 20 years old. When he steps on the field to make his NFL regular-season debut, Edmunds will be the second-youngest player to ever appear in an NFL game.
Edmunds, who was 19 when he was drafted, was the second-youngest player drafted since 1967. He appears in line to start the season as Buffalo’s starting middle linebacker in the heart of defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s 4-3 defense.
We asked Football Outsiders what gives Edmunds a chance at bucking that trend and excelling as the quarterback of Buffalo’s defense?
“I don’t expect Edmunds to be an immediate hit. The tools are raw and obvious, which is why the Bills popped him where they did, but I think the instincts will take some time to develop,” Rivers McCown said. “I think if you’re to believe that he’s good right away, it’s because you have a lot of faith in a coaching staff that churned out good linebackers over and over again in Carolina: Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, and so on.”
History doesn’t have many examples of 20-year-old middle linebackers leading their defense.
“I think instead you’ll see some splash plays -- the potential is there, and he’s obviously going to make some great things happen -- and you’ll see some lowlight reel stuff,” warned McCown. “You’ll see some blown coverages, some bitten play-actions. Edmunds should be a fine building block in the long-term. I just wouldn’t expect great things instantly.”