We’re counting down the best, most important, most impressive early career Buffalo Bills. These players are the closest thing to a “farm system” for an NFL team, and ideally they’re playing major roles in the team’s success. For every Von Miller the team’s signing in free agency, they’re only able to work that tactic by supporting him with a handful of younger, cost-controlled players.
Topping our list is a player familiar to every Bills fan. He’s the only player on this list to have a Pro Bowl appearance, and he’ll still be eligible for this list next season. He’s the foundation of Buffalo’s 4-3 defense. It’s Tremaine Edmunds!
- Number 1: LB Tremaine Edmunds
- Number 2: DT Ed Oliver
- Number 3: WR Gabriel Davis
- Number 4: DE Greg Rousseau
- Number 5: RB Devin Singletary
- Number 6: CB Kaiir Elam
- Number 7: OL Ryan Bates
- Number 8: DT Tim Settle
- Number 9: K Tyler Bass
- Number 10: OT Spencer Brown
- Honorable mentions: Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Zack Moss, James Cook
Number 1: LB Tremaine Edmunds (turned 24 on May 2)
In terms of impact and recognition, Edmunds is the clear-cut winner of this list. He’s been named to two Pro Bowls (one as a starter, one as an alternate) in his first four seasons. Let this sink in one more time: Edmunds is entering his fifth pro season, and he’s the same age as last year’s rookie offensive tackle Tommy Doyle. He’ll still be eligible for this list one more time next season.
Arguably, after his very promising rookie season, Edmunds cemented his role as a vital part of the Bills’ defense by doing the communication, between-the-tackles cleanup, and zone coverage that allowed flashier pieces like Jordan Poyer and Matt Milano to shine. It meant he wasn’t putting up the remarkable pass defense or pass rushing counting stats he did as a rookie in 2018, but there’s value in being the Cristoph Waltz of the defense (the Best Supporting Actor). Edmunds has the sideline-to-sideline range to be a tackling fiend and pass-lane roadblock, and the drop off from him to a replacement like A.J. Klein or Tyrel Dodson was dramatic in the two games he couldn’t play last year.
Buffalo’s defense is in transition after having the limitations of their bend-but-don’t-break style exposed in the 2021 playoffs. The defensive line has bigger bodies and the Bills drafted Kaiir Elam in the first round to play across from Tre’Davious White. Maybe that means it’s time to feature Edmunds as a playmaker. Or maybe they’re making plans to move on? At any rate, in terms of talent and production, he’s (still) a prominent part of this list in year five.