ESPN recently polled executives, players and coaches on the best ten players at each position in the NFL. Curiously, they left off two key pieces of the number one rated defense in the league.
Buffalo is returning two highly respected players at linebacker in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. Milano was an undersized linebacker coming out of college, who has transformed himself into an absolute baller. Sideline to sideline, there’s almost nobody better.
Edmunds, with his height and length, makes it incredibly challenging for quarterbacks to throw over the middle. His athleticism is evident in his pursuit of the ball carrier, and if he can sharpen up his angles, he will reach another level.
On The Back End:
The heart of this defense since Coach Sean McDermott’s first season at the helm has been its secondary.
Jordan Poyer & Micah Hyde:
Since coming to Buffalo in 2017, the dynamic safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer has totaled 621 solo tackles, 32 interceptions, 71 passes defensed, and 11 sacks (via Pro Football Reference). The stat lines for each go as follows:
Poyer – 364 tackles, 18 ints, 36 pdef, ten sacks
Hyde – 257 tackles, 14 ints, 35 pdef, one sack
(Above) Jordan Poyer after a 2020 loss in Arizona (image via Pro Football Rumors)
ESPN’s poll lists Denver’s Justin Simmons as its number one rated safety. In the same 5-season span as we just referenced in relation to Poyer and Hyde, Simmons has 323 solo tackles, 19 interceptions, 45 passes defensed, and two and a half sacks.
Simmons clears Micah Hyde in every category, but only has the edge on Jordan Poyer in interceptions and passes defensed. However, both Hyde and Poyer are ahead of ESPN’s tenth rated safety, Jamal Adams, in both interceptions and passes defensed. Poyer is ahead in all categories other than sacks. Hyde trails in only sacks and tackles.
Franchise cornerstone’s who have shown up in every situation other than this one, Poyer and Hyde deserve more respect. This is something we clamor for, locally, every offseason. Yet, the NFL and its brass still can’t find a spot for at least one of them on their top ten list? These guys are used to it.
Poyer was recognized as First Team All-Pro last season for the first time in his career, so being left out of the top ten is perplexing. Hyde, who was chosen for the second team, fell, along with his teammate, to the honorable mention section.
Bills safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer (image via USA Today)
Here’s what ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had to say about them:
On Poyer: “Once a special-teamer, Poyer has emerged as a Pro Bowl safety in Buffalo. He’s coming off a career-high five interceptions in 2021, holding opposing quarterbacks to 12-of-29 passing when next to the nearest defender, per NFL Next Gen Stats. “I feel like he’s got one more year playing at a really high level,” said an AFC scout, citing Poyer’s age (31). “He and (Micah Hyde) are safeties you can build your whole defense around, which Buffalo basically does.”
On Hyde: “Hyde, 31, seems to get better with age, tying a career-high with five interceptions in 2021. The All-Pro second-teamer posted a 32.3% ball-hawk rate per NFL Next Gen Stats — No. 1 among all players who saw at least 30 targets — and Pro Football Focus gave him an 82.0 grade. “Not sure anybody on that Buffalo defense made more big plays,” an NFL personnel evaluator said. “Complete player.”
To me, they could be dubbed the best safety tandem in the NFL, and I wouldn’t flinch. Not including either of them in a list of the top ten players at their position, though? I clearly have a reaction to that. It’s a massive snub. And knowing how these two guys operate, I’m sure they’ve taken notice as well. This should be an exciting season in the Bills’ defensive backfield.
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