1. Veterans believe in Tremaine Edmunds
“He’s going to be one of the best in the league,” safety Micah Hyde told Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News of Tremaine Edmunds.
“He'll be one of the top linebackers (in the NFL) in the next year or so, I believe,” veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said.
Two of the Bills’ defensive leaders have started to give the reigns to the 21-year old Edmunds. Still one of the youngest players in the NFL, teammates have seen his incredibly mature mindset and are able to compliment him because they know it won’t go to his head.
“I didn’t think it was possible for a guy like him to mature a lot more than where he already was,” Hyde said, “but just being on the field with him and communicating with him, he knows where he’s supposed to be. He knows the whole defense. He’s sideline to sideline. That boy makes a lot of plays.”
Edmunds had his ups and downs during is rookie season. Originally touted as a possible frontrunner for the rookie of the year he struggled with the position change to middle linebacker. Edmunds had lofty expectations in 2018 but found himself in the final month of the season and won the Defensive Rookie of the Month award for December.
“I kind of knew that going into it — it's going to be like that,” Edmunds said. “Nobody's perfect out there. Nothing's easy. There's a reason why it's so hard to get in this league. It's the NFL — it's the best of the best. Nothing's going to come easy, so I just came with the mindset of, I've got to go to work. What I did beforehand isn't going to translate to now.”
Edmunds ended up leading the Bills in tackles (121) at the end of the season and earned his respect in the locker room. Kyle Williams turned control of a players-only meeting in December to Edmunds and now he’s being groomed into that role.
With Williams gone, Alexander has taken it upon himself to help Edmunds. For Alexander, he knows his legacy will be defined by how well he can put Edmunds into the position to lead the defense.
“Having that trust in me to put me on that type of stage is big,” Edmunds said. “I don't want to lose that trust, so I'm going to do everything I can to continue to be me, continue to have the trust in all the guys and coaches.”
2. These second-year Bills DBs earn recognition on ESPN’s ‘Best and Brightest’ list
ESPN+ and Football Outsiders Rivers McCown collaborated on a list naming the top 25 best and brightest young players who have barely played. Two Bills meet the criteria and find themselves on the list.
Here’s the criteria:
- Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
- Entered the NFL between 2016 and 2018
- Fewer than 500 career offensive or defensive snaps (except running backs, who are allowed just 300 offensive snaps)
- Have not signed a contract extension (players who have bounced around the league looking for the right spot, however, still qualify for the list)
- Age 26 or younger in 2019
This criteria eliminates players from the Bills like Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds and Tre’Davious White. But Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson find themselves slotted in at No. 16 and No. 20, respectively.
Here’s what they said about Wallace:
An interesting player because of his background, Wallace somehow managed to not draw enough attention to get drafted. Imagine somebody dominant at football. Now imagine that they're dominant at football on the highest stage of college football. They get invited to all-star games, play well at them, and ... nothing. That's what happened to Wallace after leading the SEC in pass breakups and interceptions at Alabama. Scouts criticized his 6-foot frame and were not thrilled with his 4.63 40-yard dash at the combine. Wallace, a former walk-on, also didn't start at Alabama until his senior season.
Wallace only played 415 snaps for the Bills his rookie year breaking up three passes and allowing just 4.6 yards per pass.
Taron Johnson also joined the Bills in 2018 and while ESPN doesn’t believe there is a ton of upside, a good slot cornerback could be the difference for the Bills this season.
Johnson is a pure slot cornerback, checking in at 5-11, 192 pounds at the NFL combine. Coming out of tiny Weber State, where he starred starting as a true freshman, Johnson plays bigger than his size in the running game. He isn't afraid to get physical and in fact can often get downright grabby in coverage. There's not a lot of upside in Johnson -- he already is all that he can be -- but good slot cornerbacks are valuable in the current NFL.
3. Jeremiah Sirles spirits are still high
Jeremiah Sirles has a lot to smile about. In January he signed on for another year with the Bills and on July 20 his son Oliver Clyde Sirles was born. He appeared in 12 games for the Bills in 2018 and showed ability to play tackle, guard, or center and was frequently used as a sixth offensive lineman.
But Sirles was placed on the injured reserve this week with a foot injury.
Sirles will be eligible to return to come off the IR after eight weeks of being on the list.
Replying to NYUP.com’s Matt Parrino, Sirles seems ready to take the next step for recovery and return to the Bills as soon as he can.