After spending all of training camp and the preseason without naming a starting middle linebacker, right guard, and starting cornerback opposite Tre'Davious White, the Buffalo Bills and head coach Sean McDermott finally decided on the winners of this season's position battles during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon — and they've made the correct choices.
Middle Linebacker: Terrel Bernard
Terrel Bernard, a former third-round draft pick who struggled through a hamstring injury during the preseason, was named the Buffalo Bills starting middle linebacker for their opening regular season game against the New York Jets on Monday night.
While Bernard didn't play a single defensive snap during the team's three preseason games, as fellow linebackers Tyrel Dodson and A.J. Klein battled for the job, the Bills still decided that Bernard would be the partner to all-pro linebacker Matt Milano in week one.
Due to Bernard's injury, it originally looked like Dodson or Klein would claim the starting title, but it was ultimately their playing time that led to their demise. Both of them showed they weren't fit to occupy the starting role, and via the process of elimination, Bernard was named the starting middle linebacker in replace of Tremaine Edmunds who signed a contract with the Chicago Bears this offseason.
The Bills also drafted University of Tulane linebacker Dorian Williams in the third-round of this year's draft, but have seemingly planned to have him back up Milano at the outside linebacker position during his rookie year — regardless of his strong preseason performance.
All things considered, including the Bills plan for Williams, the Bills made the right decision by choosing Bernard over Dodson and Klein. With Dodson being a former undrafted linebacker who has started only five games in three seasons with the Bills, and Klein showing his age during training camp, Bernard has the highest ceiling of all three linebackers in 2023 as he enters his second NFL season.