The Buffalo Bills caught the NFL world by surprise last season. For the first time since 1998, they recorded double-digit wins, and also secured a postseason bid for just the second time in 20 years. They were a unit led by their defense, as the Bills allowed an average of just 298.3 yards per game -- which ranked No. 3 in the NFL. The Bills weren't necessarily one of the most fun teams to watch, but they got the job done more often than not.
One player who evolved into a leader for the Bills' defense last season was linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Buffalo selected Edmunds with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech, and he made an immediate impact. Despite being just 20 years old, Edmunds led the team in combined tackles that year with 121, while also recording two sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in his rookie season. In 2019, he again led the team in combined tackles with 115, and also notched 1.5 sacks and one interception -- a stat line which was awarded by his first Pro Bowl trip.
With Tom Brady now out of the division, the Bills are considered the favorite to take over as AFC East champions. They are confident they can do so, and Edmunds is a big reason why there's hope in Buffalo. During a recent virtual interview with reporters, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier mentioned how he has seen Edmunds make strides during this unprecedented offseason.
"Well, the first guy that comes to mind is just seeing Tremaine's development in this offseason," Frazier said, via NFL.com. "This virtual offseason. Just the way he has been kind of bringing players together and talking with them, calling them, reaching out to them, going past his own position, the linebackers position."
Despite having turned just 22 last month, Edmunds has looked like a confident leader that is as comfortable as ever entering his third season. It's exciting considering there's a great possibility that we haven't seen what he's capable of yet. The Bills might have a legitimate star on their hands.
"When you look at the fact that he's just going to third season and just turning 22, so young, so much promise ahead of him, and he's achieved so much already," Frazier said. "I mean, to already be recognized as one of our leaders on our team and on our defense. We're very, very fortunate to have him. He's the epitome of what you would want one of your star players to be, one of your leaders to be. A guy you don't have to worry about late at night. You know he's going to be where he's supposed to be, you know he's going to do what he's supposed to do when it comes to football. We're just very, very fortunate to have him as a star player for the Buffalo Bills for sure."
While the Bills lost Shaq Lawson and Lorenzo Alexander on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, they gained players like Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler. Expect Edmunds, the defense and this team as a whole to take another step forward in 2020.