Much has been said — although admittedly not by anyone at One Bills Drive — about how the Buffalo Bills plan to fill the void left by the departure of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
When Edmunds left town for a bigger paycheck in Chicago at the beginning of this year’s free agency, a lot of media — and fans — began pressing the panic button and scouring the draft lists, doing homework on every linebacker who was entering the 2023 NFL Draft. But not Bills general manager Brandon Beane. He said he feels that they already have their guy.
“You have guys on your roster who are backups — until they aren’t,” Beane said when asked about the Mike position previously filled by Edmunds, in a post-draft press conference. “We believe in these guys, and we are going to give them a chance.”
Beane was referencing linebackers Terrel Bernard, Tyrel Dodson, Baylon Spector, and A.J. Klein, who he says will all be given the chance to compete for the starting job during training camp.
“We have good competition. We aren’t going to go in saying who we think is going to win,” he said. “Dodson has the most experience with us, but those other guys are working hard to get up to speed.”
When asked about bringing in a veteran linebacker over the next few weeks, the Bills’ general manager shut that idea down quickly and confidently.
“We brought in A.J. Klein as a guy who has done it and we have veterans around them,” he said, saying that last season’s late addition of bringing Klein back (then re-signing him to a one-year deal this spring) was as far as the team plans to go down the veteran linebacker track.
“There are going to be mistakes. They aren’t going to be Tremaine. He had five years at that spot. He made his mistakes early on too,” Beane said about transitioning into a new player at the Mike position. “We believe in these guys, and we are going to give them a chance.”
Beane went on to say that Matt Milano would definitely continue as the outside linebacker and that while he drafted rookie Dorian Williams in the third round (91st overall pick), he expected him to also be an outside linebacker — at least for year one.
“We aren’t ruling it out, but it will be a big transition for him,” Beane said, saying that they liked what they saw in the former All-American out of Tulane in respect to instinctiveness. “We will know when we get to camp if we are going to give Dorian a chance at that MIKE or just keep him outside.”
So, batten down the hatches, get your thumbs ready for your overly judgmental tweets, find a new rally camp, and get ready for a wild ride across the middle of the Buffalo Bills’ defense. Or... just get ready to use the name Taron Johnson a lot as the Bills’ nickel corner should be plenty busy as part of that supporting cast of vets that Beane is counting on to help fill the void left by Edmunds’ departure.