Buffalo Bills: 5 moves that helped the team’s rise out of mediocrity
By Aaron Tully
2018 Rookie Class
There isn’t just one standout candidate from the 2018 Buffalo Bills rookie class to put above the others, so the entire rookie class makes the list. The 2018 NFL Draft was the first draft where both Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane were with the Bills, and they absolutely nailed it.
The obvious two are the first-round picks; Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds.
Starting with Allen, he has drastically improved every year that he has been the quarterback for the Bills. Allen finished a distant runner-up for MVP behind Aaron Rodgers in 2020 and even got more votes than Patrick Mahomes.
Allen has brought so much to the table for the Bills since arriving in Buffalo; a remarkable work ethic, great leadership skills, fantastic size, and mind-blowing arm talent among other things. Josh Allen can make throws that very few quarterbacks in the NFL can make. All of Allen’s skills make him one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Nine picks later, the Bills selected Tremaine Edmunds; a middle linebacker with great size and athleticism.
Edmunds has been excellent for Buffalo in his first three seasons, accumulating 335 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Edmunds has put up the production that is asked of a first round pick; he has not finished a season with less than 115 combined tackles.
In the fourth round of that draft, the Bills selected Taron Johnson. Johnson has been excellent in the slot corner role for Buffalo. Johnson had a career-high in tackles in 2020, accumulating 94 combined tackles.
Johnson has also begun to gain a reputation as a guy who comes up with a pick six when the Bills need one the most; flipping the script before halftime with a pick six against the Steelers, and making a potentially franchise-altering play in the Divisional Round against the Ravens with a 101 yard pick six.
The Bills also found solid depth pieces in defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and safety Siran Neal during the middle rounds of the 2018 draft.
The Bills didn’t just do well in the draft, they found diamonds in the rough with undrafted free agents (UDFA) Levi Wallace and Robert Foster.
Foster was a standout UDFA in 2018, and became Josh Allen’s favorite target in the back half of 2018, catching 27 passes for 541 yards and three scores. Levi Wallace also flashed signs of promise in 2018, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 50 percent of their passes, and just a 76.8 opposing passer rating.
While Foster fizzled out, Wallace has been a starting cornerback across from Tre’Davious White ever since he took on the role, and has been a solid second cornerback during his three seasons in Buffalo.
The 2018 rookie class has made a major impact on the current Bills roster, and likely will continue to do so in the near future.