Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are the best young linebacking duo in football.
Josh Allen, by virtue of being the quarterback and the most wildly inconsistent player in the NFL, gets most of the hype when discussing the Buffalo Bills, who have eyes set on a division title now that Tom Brady has left the division. It would be foolish to overlook the stalwart Buffalo defense, as Leslie Frazier’s unit ranked second in points per game allowed, while Brian Daboll’s offense was 23rd in points scored.
Even when discussing their mighty defense, the marquee player, cornerback Tre’Davious White, is often assigned too much of the credit, as this unit is stacked from top to bottom. One of the more unheralded components of Sean McDermott’s defense is the linebacking corps, as Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano form one of the best ILB tandems in the game.
Matt Milano is an extremely versatile linebacker.
Milano, a stud at Boston College, slipped to the fifth round of the 2017 draft, as his 6-0, 223-pound frame had scouts debating if he was a safety or linebacker. McDermott stuck him at linebacker, and his exceptional speed and coverage skills have helped him become the ultimate Swiss Army knife in McDermott’s defense. In a nickel-heavy scheme in which speed and the ability to quickly diagnose plays are the two traits McDermott values above all else, Milano certainly checks both of those boxes.
Not only has Milano been tasked with stuffing runs between the tackles and roving sideline-to-sideline, but he is one of the best coverage linebackers in football, as McDermott regularly lines him up in man coverage against running backs and tight ends. Unsurprisingly, he’s amazing at it, as he only allowed an average of 4.1 yards per target on passes thrown his way, one of the best rates for linebackers in the league.
Tremaine Edmunds is on a path to stardom with the Buffalo Bills
Edmunds, the son of a Pro Bowl tight end in Ferrell and brother of a starting safety in Terrell, had a unique skillset that enticed the Bills to use a first-round pick on him in 2018 after a dominant college career alongside his brother at Virginia Tech. Edmunds, who became a Pro Bowler for the first time in 2019 at the age of 21, has recorded 236 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions during his first two seasons in upstate New York.
It’s already unfair that a linebacker who stands 6-5 and weighs 250 has his speed and athletic ability, but when combined with tremendous instincts and nose for the football, we have the makings of a true superstar. An ironman who only missed snaps when McDermott pulled his starters in Week 17, Edmunds might morph into the best pure inside linebacker in the game in a few years.
For the first time since Darryl Talley in the early 90s, the Bills might have unearthed a true star at the linebacker position. As long as McDermott is there, Edmunds will only continue to improve.
Milano and Edmunds are impressive by themselves, but they landed in a perfect situation, as a defensive-minded head coach like McDermott and one of the best defensive coordinators in the league in Frazier calling the shots has allowed both of them to become stars in short order.
If the Bills get anywhere in the postseason, it will be because of their defense, and Milano and Edmunds are at the center of it all. If Buffalo wins a playoff game or two, that might finally help this duo get the recognition they deserve from the national football media.