Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White is having a stellar season. Tied for the NFL lead in interceptions and named to his first Pro Bowl, White’s play has helped lead the Bills to their second playoff birth in three years. In today’s NFL where the passing game dominates, you need a lockdown corner on defense. And with the rules skewed in favor of offenses, it’s arguably harder now than ever before to play defense. White’s performance on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers introduced him on a national stage. But that kind of performance is nothing to new for White.
The Elite Tre’Davious White
Drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, Tre’Davious White has been a staple in the Bills defense since day one. He started every game in his rookie year, and did the same in his second season. This year, he’s started 14 out 14 games and has emerged as an elite corner in the NFL. His play on the field in his first two years was very good. But this year has been something else. This year White has elevated himself into the elite of NFL cornerbacks.
A True Lockdown Cornerback
Tre’Davious White notched four interceptions in his rookie season, and garnered another two last year. This year he currently has six with two games remaining. White’s ability to intercept the ball is a small part of his game. The large part of his game is his function as a true lockdown corner in the NFL.
His advanced metrics are on another level this year. For example, White is one of only two players this season to be targeted 50 plus times as the nearest defender and not allow a touchdown. White has been targeted 80 times. He hasn’t allowed a touchdown once. The next corner after him to not allow a touchdown when targeted, has only been targeted 47 times. That amount of separation is massive. Furthermore, White has six interceptions. Which is five more than the third and fourth place corners on this list combined. Also a massive amount of separation.
Adding to the impressive nature of his play is the fact that Tre’Davious White often travels all over the field with his opponent’s best receiver. Against the Denver Broncos, he covered Courtland Sutton on 78.6% of his routes and held him to one catch for 27 yards on seven targets. Against the Cleveland Browns, he covered Odell Beckham on 87.5% of his routes and held him to four catches for 41 yards on 10 targets. White isn’t the product of a scheme or only good in certain scenarios. He goes wherever he’s needed. And that might mean in one game he’ll cover the left side, right side, and slot all in one drive. Whoever your best receiving asset is, White is going to take him away.
Tre’Davious White Metrics and Impact on the Field
In case you’d like some more metrics, here’s some more metrics. Tre’Davious White allows just 2.0 yards of separation per target which is fifth amongst outside corners with 40 plus targets. His passer rating allowed when targeted this year is 43.9 which is third in the NFL. And since he came into the league in 2017, PFF has him at number one in passer rating against in that time span.
Tre’Davious White doesn’t give opposing quarterbacks much room for error. If any at all. He suffocates opposing receivers and often times that receiver is the opponent’s best receiver. If you’ve watched the Bills since White came into the league, this news isn’t all that surprising. He passes the eye test every week and flashes on tape game after game. His metrics are just a further testament to that.
Tre’Davious White has been instant impact since he came into this league. Having an elite cornerback on your team is invaluable for a defense. Knowing you can take away or limit an offense’s top receiver allows you to do so much as a defense. You could focus more on the run. Or you could blitz more. Or you could blitz less and rush only four and allow for coverage sacks to develop. And there’s more possibilities and avenues than what I’ve listed. Point is, White allows the Buffalo Bills defense to be the versatile and dangerous group that it is. Winning a championship is hard. Beating championship level teams is hard. Having a player that makes an entire side of the ball better goes a long way.
What It All Means for Tre’Davious White
The Buffalo Bills have found themselves an elite NFL cornerback and cornerstone of their defense for years to come. Tre’Davious White has the potential to be the best corner in the NFL. His first three years in the league have been impressive and the jump he’s made each year has been greater than the last. It’ll be exciting to watch him and the rest of the young Buffalo Bills defense develop and gel. White has played at an elite level this year. He’ll have to continue his elite level of play if the Bills want to make noise in the playoffs.
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