According to Pro Football Focus, the Buffalo Bills have the best linebacker in the NFL on their roster through two weeks this season.
Fifth-year pro Matt Milano has earned an overall grade of 86.6 following the team’s Bills first two games, which places him ahead of the likes of Darius Leonard, Eric Kendricks, Bobby Wagner and Lavonte David. That quartet of stars has earned 11 Pro Bowl nods and 10 All-Pro honors, while Milano has yet to add either accolade to his resumé.
Milano is one of only two linebackers to earn a grade of at least 85, as Dallas Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons has received an 85.1 thus far.
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Primarily an outside linebacker, Milano ranks more towards the middle of the pack in rush defense (57.8), but has been an elite pass rusher, as evidence by his fourth-best 89.6 mark. Dropping back in coverage, the 27-year-old ranks fifth among all linebackers with a grade of 82.6.
Injuries Have Plagued Milano’s Bills Career
Selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft, talent has never been the question with Milano. Unfortunately, the injury bug has hit the former Boston College standout multiple times in recent years.
Milano played in all 16 games during his rookie season, collecting an interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a touchdown. Both the fumble recovery and touchdown return of 40 yards came on this play in Week Eight against the then-Oakland Raiders.
Milano was putting together another solid season in 2018, registering three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and 12 tackles for a loss, but suffered an injury in a December game against the New York Jets, which prematurely ended his campaign after 13 contests. The Orlando, Florida native bounced back in 2019, suiting up for 15 games and posting a career-high 101 tackles, but was limited to 10 games in 2020 – though he did record a career-best 3.5 sacks.
Through a pair of games this season, Milano has recorded 10 tackles (four tackles for a loss), one sack and one fumble recovery.
Other Bills LBs Failing to Make the Grade Thus Far
While Milano has put together a fantastic start to the 2021 season, other Buffalo players in the linebacker group have not yet stepped up, at least according to the Pro Football Focus analysis. The only other Bills linebacker to crack the top-50 is two-time Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds, who was given a paltry 56.9 grade, good for 48th.
As an inside linebacker, Edmunds is given a mediocre 63.8 mark for his pass rush work, while earning a 59.8 pass rush grade and 53.8 figure in coverage.
Edmunds has not only been one of the Bills best defenders through his first three NFL seasons, but he’s been durable. The 2018 16th overall pick set numerous career-highs as a rookie, including two interceptions, two forced fumbles, two sacks and 121 tackles. He played in all 16 contests in 2019 and 15 more last season, and for his career, has 25 passes defended, 5.5 sacks and 362 tackles.
In the first two games this season, the 23-year-old has not recorded a sack and only has one pass defended and seven tackles. Edmunds and the Bills are still less than one-eighth through the 2021 regular season – with the expanded 17-game schedule – so he still has plenty of time to make up for a slow start.