Every NFL team has their star young players that they look to build a franchise around. Brandon Beane has quietly built a stable of young talent on the Buffalo Bills roster. That talent might make up one of 2019’s best young cores in the entire NFL. According to Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice, the Bills posted the NFL’s 28th youngest roster in the NFL in 2018. They were 30th in 2017. The number is misleading because of the veterans Beane sprinkles in to mentor younger players. But, it still shows that the Bills need more young talent and that is what Beane is doing. This formula seems to have proved successful so far, and hopefully will continue to do so.
Josh Allen- Age 23
The Beane-McDermott regime has cleared previous Bills dead salary cap money, drafted well, and signed a plethora of free agents. But, everything Beane has done will mean nothing if Josh Allen doesn’t pan out. Beane has surrounded Allen this offseason with more receiving talent, an overhaul of offensive lineman, improved tight ends, and a talented running back room. In addition, the Bills had the 2nd ranked defense in 2018. So in 2019 there are no excuses for Allen to not produce and win. Josh Allen is without question the face of the franchise. If he hits he will be one of the leagues best young talents at the quarterback position.
Tremaine Edmunds- Age 21
The Allen-Edmunds core should run this franchise for a long, long time. The 2019 first round pick is the youngest player ever to be drafted in the NFL when he was selected at age 19. Edmunds’ monster physical profile will terrorize offenses. In 2018 he had 121 combined tackles which was top 20 in the NFL. He forced two fumbles and grabbed two interceptions which are all astounding stats for a 20-year-old rookie. He is at the center of the entire defense at middle linebacker. Edmunds was even calling the plays for Sean McDermott as a rookie. As he gains more experience he could be on track to becoming one of the best defenders in the NFL and will be the man the front office builds around on defense for years.
Tre’Davious White- 24
Sean McDermott’s first draft pick as head coach of the Buffalo Bills has turned into an absolute star. He was recently named to the NFL’s Top Players Under 25 list. His name was mentioned in the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation. “Tre” has been locking down receivers since he was drafted. White is the leader of 2018’s best secondary and NFL’s 2nd best defense. His coverage grade has been one of the best in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. His total grade is 83.3. He has allowed 51.9% of targets to be caught and has a passer rating against of 69.1. He is emerging as one of the leagues’ best cornerbacks.
Dion Dawkins- Age 25
Dion Dawkins was fantastic as a rookie but had a down season in 2018. Still only 25, he has the potential to emerge as the franchise left tackle. Even if he gets moved to another offensive line position, in some way he will be protecting Allen for as long as the Bills want to keep him. With an improved unit around him, Dawkins should not have to shoulder the load and should be back to form or even better. If he can learn from all the veterans the Bills have signed and continues to grow, he can be the franchise left tackle.
Ed Oliver and Cody Ford- Age 21 and 22
On paper, it appears as though Oliver will be a dominant force in the middle of the Bills defense. With the recent Jerry Hughes extension, the Bills now have 3/4 defensive line starters under contract for at least the next two seasons and 4/4 if Trent Murphy is considered a starter. The combo of Oliver and Star Lotulelei will eat offensive lines up and make wide open tackling lanes for the rest of the defense. As said previously, on paper it appears as though the Bills have their young stud in the middle of the defensive line.
The Bills traded up for Cody Ford in the draft this year. Words from analysts to describe him are, “relentless, mean and nasty.” Ford protected Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and was a force on arguably the best offense in college football the last two seasons. He is a mauler that could be Josh Allen’s future protector at right tackle for years to come. Ford and Dawkins could be the tackles protecting Allen for the next ten years giving him elite protection from edge rushers.
Others Who Could Become Stars
Levi Wallace (23)- Wallace emerged as one of the best rookie cornerbacks in the NFL last season. However, it remains to be seen if he can do it consistently. He was graded the highest rated rookie cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. As an undrafted free agent, if he shows he can be just as lockdown in 2019 he will solidify the Bills secondary. He could be a diamond in the rough.
Matt Milano (24)- Matt Milano was an absolute steal in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has been a rock for the Bills and has a knack for taking the football away from opposing offenses. In 2018 he had three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. He looks like he will live his career out as a solid NFL starter who isn’t a superstar but a great piece to a defense.
Taron Johnson (22)- Johnson emerged out of Weber State as a rookie as a fine young slot cornerback. Because receivers are given yards of separation in the slot, slot corner is one of the toughest positions in the NFL. It is growing as a huge need for NFL teams because of the increase in the passing game overall. He had an above average grade from Pro Football Focus all season; his grade was about 70. If Johnson grows into his second season he could become a great player at a position of growing importance.