The Buffalo Bills haven’t had a rookie of the year award winner since 1987 when Shane Conlan took home the trophy. (Jim Haslett won it for Buffalo in 1979, too.) Could 2017 NFL Draft pick Tre’Davious White break the streak and make an instant impact?
Pro Football Focus listed their top candidates for the offensive and defensive rookies of the year this week and gave their top three. White wasn’t among the names listed, and probably won’t be in consideration.
One of the things going against White is the position he plays. While Marcus Peters took home the trophy in 2015 (ahead of fellow cornerback Ronald Darby), cornerbacks typically don’t win the award. You have to go back to Charles Woodson in 1998 for the last cornerback prior to Peters. In the last 40 years, only three cornerbacks have been picked compared to the litany of linebackers who rack up big numbers of tackles and win the award. (Even safety Jairus Byrd’s nine interceptions couldn’t beat out a linebacker in 2009.)
White, who grabbed six picks in his college career, won’t be making a ton of highlight-worthy plays at the cornerback position and that will hurt his chances. When he is on the highlights, it will most likely show him getting beat by a receiver. Pass breakups just aren’t sexy enough to make him an appealing candidate for this type of award.
Down the line, Buffalo’s two rookie linebackers shouldn’t see enough snaps to break into the conversation. While fifth rounder Matt Milano or sixth round pick Tanner Vallejo could end up starting at linebacker, they will be part of a linebacker contingent and won’t rack up the kind of numbers every-down linebackers need to win the award.