With the recent developments of the arrest of Ed Oliver, some questions surround the Buffalo Bills defensive line among other roster areas.
What is next for Ed Oliver?
On Saturday night, Ed Oliver was out when he was reported to be driving recklessly on the outskirts of Houston, Texas. After another motorist notified the Montgomery County Sheriffs Department of Oliver’s driving, he was pulled over. It was at that time that they conducted a field sobriety test, which Oliver failed, and the deputies found a small caliber pistol in his truck shortly after doing a search of the vehicle.
Oliver now becomes the second defensive tackle player of the 2019 NFL Draft class to be facing firearm charges as New York Jets defensive Quinnen Williams was arrested back in March. The former 3rd overall pick attempted to board a flight at LaGuardia Airport where authorities identified a firearm in his luggage. William was reported to have a license to carry for his home state of Alabama but did not have one for New York.
With the recent events that have occurred with Oliver, the Buffalo Bills may have to prepare to have Oliver out of the lineup for the opening weeks of the season. Luckily for them, they currently have a surplus of defensive tackles on their roster. With a whopping 13 defensive line players, assuming Oliver won’t be able to play Week 1, it will be interesting to see who is slotted where.
Assumingly, the Buffalo Bills have Star Lotulelei, Vincent Taylor and Harrison Phillips ready but it could be Quinton Jefferson or Vernon Butler who see a bigger role. With the game being so fast and physical, Buffalo would need a supplementary player to come in and play defensive tackle. Though it would not be the best for his development as an edge rusher at the next level, 2020 draft pick A.J. Epenesa showed during his time at Iowa that he can fill that void if need be.
What is the plan for Josh Norman?
Coming off a one-interception season, the 32-year old cornerback has seen a fall from grace in recent years. With the trilogy of Norman’s exchanges with Odell Beckham Jr. now a spectacle of the past, Norman has fallen out of the conversation of “best corner in the league” of what he was one apart of back during his All-Pro, Pro-Bowl season of 2015 with the Carolina Panthers. Since then, Norman has been a serviceable defensive back but lacks the lockdown coverage he once had.
With that in mind, understanding how he will fit into the Bills roster this season is a topic worth pondering. With All-Pro, Pro-Bowler Tre’Davious White on one side who will be a non-negotiable starter in 2020, the other side from White is up for debate of who would be the starter.
Last season, Levi Wallace filled in as the starting corner with Taron Johnson serving as a decent nickelback before he injured his shoulder. In 16 starts for the Buffalo Bills last season, Wallace recorded two interceptions but only nine pass breakups. This could potentially see a change in the starting cornerback position if Norman shows this summer that he can get back to the level he was once at.
If that is not the case, Wallace could again be the second corner starter with Norman and E.J. Gaines coming in for different packages.
Can Tremaine Edmunds elevate his game again this season?
It is hard to demand more from a player who becomes one of the youngest players in franchise history to reach the Pro Bowl. But, for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, the ceiling is sky-high.
In his second NFL season, Edmunds was the team’s middle linebacker alongside the now-retired Lorenzo Alexander and linebacker Matt Milano. He recorded 115 combined tackles, nine defended passes and an interception, earning a Pro Bowl appearance after Dont’a Hightower could not participate due to an injury. Entering the 2020 season, the Bills have added former New Orleans Saint strongside linebacker A.J. Klein to replace Alexander and who will play alongside Edmunds.
Last season, Edmunds showed that he is a tremendous tackler. The area of his game that does need work is his ability to get off blocks. Playing the middle, Edmunds will be met by pulling linemen and running/fullbacks who rush to the second level of the defense to free up space on the field for rushing and passing routes.
If he is able to utilize his hands more and is able to work on his ability to shed blocks, he could reach the “Perennial All-Pro” player that he was projected to be during the 2019 draft.