The Unique Playmaking Ability of Tre’Davious White

Johnny Kinsley

When it comes to the Buffalo Bills defense, arguably the best (and most valuable) player on that entire unit is fourth-year corner Tre’Davious White, an alumnus of LSU, otherwise known as “DBU”.

A First Team All-Pro in 2019, the defensive back was only topped by fellow AFC East corner Stephon Gilmore (a former Bill) in terms of dominance at the position.

On the season, White had six interceptions, 17 pass disruptions, a sack, and four tackles for a loss. His six interceptions were extremely impressive considering he didn’t give up a single touchdown, a testament to his otherworldly combination of aggressiveness and caution. Though he was eighth among all corners in fantasy points via FantasyData (98.4), he allowed a 45.0 passer rating, just behind the Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore’s 44.1 rating.

White was fortunate to have the explosive year he had because it occurred in a successful year for the Bills. At 10-6, they made it to the postseason for the second time in three seasons under the guidance of head coach Sean McDermott, allowing national audiences to discover how good the All-Pro truly was. The pinnacle of this occurred in a week 15 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football, where White came away with two interceptions.

On a defense loaded with playmakers, White stands out as the best of the bunch. Corners tend to land all over the place in terms of consistency, but White has consistently gotten better and better to the point where he’s officially a lock in any top-five cornerback list. It’s the kind of ingredients the Bills need to enhance their secondary, and after three years, it should be expected that Buffalo will offer White a huge payday anytime soon.

To see exactly why White is a top-two corner in the league and a valuable dynasty asset, let’s check through the tape of his immaculate 2019 breakout season.

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White’s matchup with Odell Beckham in week ten at Cleveland wasn’t just about two of the best at their respective positions, but also because both players were first-rounders out of LSU. Though the Bills would end up losing this game, White made a number of incredible plays against the high-profile talent on the other side of the spectrum.

This pass deflection on the fade route stands out as the best of said plays. Rather than aim for the interception, White waits until the moment Beckham has the football in his mitts and makes a play on the ball, swatting it out of Beckham’s hands and onto the end zone turf for the incompletion. It’s a cliche at this point, but a play like this looks similar to defending the rim in basketball, just without the shot attempt of course.

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Next, let’s advance to the aforementioned Steelers game in a win that clinched a postseason berth for Buffalo with the first of White’s two interceptions on a December night in the Steel City.

This play occurred against James Washington on a deep shot just outside the numbers. White is able to mirror Washington’s route and avoid falling victim to the double move, and this is where his deadly combination of aggressive play on the ball and timing strike a perfect balance. White isn’t caught off guard in the slightest by Washington’s double move, and is able to undercut his route down the sideline for an incredible play on the ball.

Plays like this showcase the best of a ball-magnet like Marcus Peters combined with the technique and vision of a corner like Richard Sherman. It’s rare to get a top corner who can do both so often, yet here we are with White.

Another signature game for White occurred in week 12 against the Broncos, where he went up against Pro Bowl wideout Courtland Sutton. A high-quality runner and a physical freak at the catch point, Sutton has become a fan favorite in Denver and has caught the attention of many for his breakout 2019 campaign.

I mention these accolades because White allowed next to nothing against the Mile High star. Via Pro Football Focus, White only allowed one catch against Sutton for 27 yards and a 3.6 passer rating, while also recording an interception, two pass disruptions when the two went face to face. It was as big of a shutdown as you’d find all season.

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The first noteworthy play from this matchup came on this interception. This play is a total miscommunication between Sutton and quarterback Brandon Allen, but that doesn’t detract from the outstanding coverage White displayed here as he suffocates the receiver’s inside curl route with press coverage. Even if Sutton and Allen were on the same page, the path White was on suggests this would’ve ended with an incompletion at the very least.

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Lastly, the pair face off on the sideline as Denver looks to drive into Buffalo territory (they square off at the bottom of the screen). The coverage gets physical as both players use a lot of hand-to-hand contact just in bounds, and White is able to force Sutton to have as little room as possible by jamming him outside. The pass from Allen is able to reach the vicinity of Sutton, but White is able to disrupt it at the catch point as it falls harmlessly to the turf.

Sutton is not a slouch. He’s arguably a top ten wide receiver so for him to look like a totally different player is a crowning achievement on White’s part.

These and more display Tre’Davious White’s value not just as the key player on the Bills defense, but also in IDP leagues as well. He is so good at mirroring receivers’ routes and is the rare star corner with an incredible nose for the ball and the smarts to eliminate big plays elsewhere. That kind of style is exactly why the Bills need to extend him and lock in a key member of a playoff contender.

As for the rest of us, it would be wise to lock in a playmaker for IDP leagues as soon as you can.

johnny kinsley