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Buffalo Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds was tasked with playing a new position, carrying the responsibility of lining everyone up on the defense, making pre-snap adjustments, and anchoring the 2nd-ranked defense. At the age of 20, he became one of the youngest players to start in an NFL game.
After trading up to select QB Josh Allen, the Bills traded up once again in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Tremaine Edmunds out of Virginia Tech, securing future building blocks on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
After the preseason, head coach Sean McDermott announced that Edmunds would be the starting middle linebacker alongside Matt Milano and Lorenzo Alexander.
In his regular season debut, Edmunds logged 7 combined tackles, deflected 2 passes, and made his first career sack during the Bills 47-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
After his impressive debut, Tremaine Edmunds had his “welcome to the NFL” moment in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Philip Rivers and OC Ken Whisenhunt attacked Edmunds early and often in the passing game, using his inexperience to make him cover the entire width of the field.
Through the first 6 quarters of play, Buffalo gave up 75 points to opposing teams, which was why McDermott took over the defensive play calling duties in the second half of the game. Edmunds bounced back the following week against the Minnesota Vikings, as he led the team with 10 tackles during the 27-6 upset. A breakout game for both Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds garnered them both top-10 rookies through 3 weeks by ESPN Senior Writer Jeff Legworld.
Injury and Progress:
Throughout the season, Tremaine Edmunds continued to stuff the stat sheet and play almost every snap on the defensive side of the ball.
It was the Monday night game against the New England Patriots that saw Edmunds gaining national attention, leading the Bills with 8 tackles in the first half. Unfortunately, the rookie saw his night end early, as he left the game in the second half with a concussion.
The injury forced Edmunds to miss the next game against the Chicago Bears in Week 9, being the only game he missed last season.
In Week 14, Tremaine Edmunds recorded 8 tackles, 1 pass deflected, and his first career interception against Sam Darnold and the New York Jets. In the 27-23 loss, Edmunds became the youngest player to make an interception in NFL history.
Sean McDermott praised Edmunds’ development since the beginning of the season, “It’s significant the growth that he’s made so far to this point and I think the arrow continues to point up with more upside.”
After a lackluster preseason, combined with the emergence of Darius Leonard in Indianapolis and Leighton Vander Esch in Dallas, many began to wonder if the Buffalo Bills gave up too much in order to trade up and select Edmunds.
Much like Josh Allen, Edmunds saw a huge difference in his play between the beginning of the season and the ending.
Ending the Season on a High Note:
The last two games of the season showed the consistent presence of Edmunds, as he recorded 11 and 13 combined tackles, and reeled in his 2nd career interception against Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins to finish the season.
Edmunds earned himself the December Defensive Rookie of the Month award, as he ended the season with 121 combined tackles, 12 passes defended, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles while playing 86% of the defensive snaps.
While Edmunds struggled in the preseason, he finished the year ranked 13th in tackles. He improved his play against the run, his sideline-to-sideline speed, and his chops in the pass coverage.
Heading into the next season, Edmunds can improve on his block shedding, but he was a massive improvement over Preston Brown and helped the defense reach new levels in 2018.
Featured Image:Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY Sports