Heading into the 2019 NFL season, all eyes are on Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen as the second-year passer has big expectations following an up-and-down rookie year. But his fellow first-round draft mate, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who the team traded up to select with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, will also play a major role Buffalo’s success this season. Edmunds, who recently turned 21-years old, is not only going to be expected to build upon his play from a year ago, but will also be tasked with embracing a leadership role following the retirement of longtime defensive tackle Kyle Williams.
Williams and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander began passing the leadership torch to Edmunds during the middle of last year, when they asked the then 20-year old rookie to lead some of the team’s defensive meetings. Prior to the start of OTAs, the Bills made Edmunds and Allen the two players available to the media, showing that they have faith in their two young players to represent the team as respective leaders of their units.
“I was young coming in and learning a new system,” Edmunds said of his rookie year. “So I have a year under my belt now. So now, it’s about going back and fine-tuning what I did last year and what we did as a team. Learning from there, sitting down with the guys, getting more into depth with it now. Talking more football, more situational work since everybody now has a foundation. We’re all kind of on the same talk now as we got through it a little bit last year. But just going from there and learning from there and getting better.”
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier discussed what he’s seen from Tremaine Edmunds throughout OTAs, explaining that he is impressed with how the Virginia Tech product has grown from a mental standpoint heading into year two.
“Probably the biggest thing is the confidence,” said Frazier. “It’s extremely high now and you see it in the way he communicates, he has a much better grasp of what we want to get done on defense and what his role is within that. His ability now to communicate with no hesitation, to know exactly what we’re looking for as a coaching staff, you see the evidence in the way he’s practicing and the way he’s communicating with his teammates, which gives those guys confidence in our middle linebacker. He’s grown over the offseason and from some of the things that happened as a rookie as well. The confidence is probably the one thing that’s sticking out more and more.”
He had an impressive rookie campaign, totaling 121 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, 12 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He finished the season strong, earning the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month award after racking up 43 tackles, two interceptions and one sack in December.
Tremaine Edmunds struggled out of the gate, particularly in pass coverage, as he was learning a new position on the fly after playing outside linebacker throughout his collegiate career. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed an 83.5-percent catch rate, surrendering 612 yards and two touchdowns through the air. However, in his last seven games he fared much better, allowing just 21 receptions for 133 yards.
🔥🔥🔥Hughes is slightly off target with his long arm, but look at how he lifts and dips under the tackle. It flushes Darnold to his right and Edmunds picks him off. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/4iX4i26M7F
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 18, 2019
At the end of the season, the young linebacker reflected on his adjustment to the NFL, noting that there is a lot of work that still lies ahead.
“It’s a big change,” Edmunds admitted. “Anybody who has made that change can tell you that. I’ve just been all ears trying to get advice from everybody and hearing what the coaches have to say. I’m still trying to take steps forward now. I feel the sky is the limit to where I can get to. Personally, I feel I’m nowhere close to being as good as I can be. I just have to keep working and keep learning the game more and keep developing.”
Edmunds' progression in his rookie season was just as noticeable as his progression in his final season at VA Tech.
He still has stuff to work out, but he played these under routes a lot better the second half of the season. pic.twitter.com/NK9BfUCW6f
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 18, 2019