For as long as I’ve been a Buffalo Bills fan, the team has had solid linebackers. Whether you’re talking about big-name guys from my younger days like Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, and Shane Conlan, studs on bad teams like London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes, or lesser-known guys like Damien Covington and Keith Newman, the Bills have always been solid at the defense’s middle level.
When the Bills hired head coach Sean McDermott, he came from a team where his defense was “quarterbacked” by one of the league’s best middle linebackers in Luke Kuechly. Building a defense around a true three-down linebacker is something that every defensive coach wants to do. This leaves the team in a great place in terms of continuity, given that the middle linebacker is the one making the calls on the field most of the time.
In our penultimate installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile the quarterback of Buffalo’s defense, a player so young that he was unable to drink alcohol legally for the duration of his rookie season.
Name: Tremaine Edmunds
Height/Weight: 6’5” 250 lbs.
Age: 21 (22 on 5/2/20)
Experience/Draft: 2; selected in the first round (16 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Bills
College: Virginia Tech
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Edmunds enters the second year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact that totals $12,659,544 overall. The contract is fully guaranteed, and it contains a fifth-year option (as all first-round contracts do). For the 2019 season, Edmunds carries a salary cap hit of $2,877,169.
2018 Recap: Overall, Edmunds had a stellar rookie season, although it was not without its share of ups and downs. In the early part of the year, especially, the then-20-year old linebacker looked like his head was swimming at times. Once he settled in, however, his natural ability took over and allowed him to flourish. He played in 15 games on the year, totaling 121 tackles, which led the Bills. He also had two sacks, 12 pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, seven quarterback hits, and five tackles for loss on the year.
Positional outlook: Edmunds is the unquestioned starter at middle linebacker, joining Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Milano as a clear top-tier at the linebacker position. Julian Stanford and Tyrel Dodson have spent time at middle linebacker with the second and third units this offseason. Vosean Joseph, Maurice Alexander, Deon Lacey, and Corey Thompson are the other linebackers in camp.
2019 Offseason: Edmunds has participated in all offseason activities to date.
2019 Season outlook: I’m excited to see what the talented Edmunds can do in his second season. The game has clearly slowed down for him, and he has embraced the leadership role that comes with being the defensive quarterback. Edmunds is a freak athlete who can do it all, from covering tight ends and running backs to rushing the passer. Now that he’s more comfortable, we should see him react more than think about what he’s doing, which should allow for him to have a big second year.