The Bills drafted six rookies and have 15 more undrafted free agents on the roster heading into training camp. Some are just looking to make the roster, while a few have the chance to make an immediate impact. Tre’Davious White is already a day one starter at the cornerback position and Zay Jones is a day one starter at the receiver position. Both will have an effect on their side of the ball, but the jury is still out on which will make a bigger splash.
The case for Tre’Davious White
After the departure of Stephon Gilmore, the Buffalo Bills were extremely thin at the cornerback position. Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour were assumed to be the number one and two corners at one point in the offseason and it only got worse after them.
On draft day the Bills still had a plethora of needs in the back of their defense even after free agency signings like Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer to bolster their secondary. The addition of White helps solidify the secondary as a group without any gaping holes.
In his senior season at LSU, White only allowed 41.7% of passes his way to be completed according to Pro Football Focus. Pro Football Focus has also given White the highest coverage grade of any corner entering the league with a grade of 89.5. Immediately jumping into one of the top two corner positions, White fills arguably the biggest need for the Bills going into the 2017-2018 season. White will have his hands full with talented receivers around the league and he seems to be up for the challenge. Coaches and players have raved over the promise he has shown in camps thus far.
Although White most likely wont be left on an island too much this season, his fundamentals and football IQ will help him be positioned in the right place on the field in McDermotts’ zone based scheme. From a statistical standpoint, White won’t jump off the pages but his presence will be made known.
The case for Zay Jones
White’s long resume, polished play, and leadership qualities stand out, but Buffalo’s second selection has an equally impressive curriculum vitae. He’s the record holder for single-season receptions and career receptions among Division I athletes, and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2016.
In a similar situation to White’s, Jones doesn’t have very much competition for a starting role. He’ll have to outshine a handful of journeymen: Andre Holmes (14 catches, 126 yards, 3 touchdowns last season), Rod Streater (18/191/2 last year) and Corey Brown (27/276/2). That shouldn’t pose a major challenge to the rookie.
When betting odds opened up on rookie receiver production this spring, 5th overall pick Corey Davis wasn’t the favorite. Nor was 7th overall selection Mike Williams. Instead, the bookmakers were counting on Jones to lead the pack in receiving yards. The lack of options in Buffalo’s passing game, combined with injury uncertainty for Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay, mixed with Jones’ prolific college career, gives him a good chance to rack up yardage in his first season.
White is more likely to start a full 16 games for the Bills, but Jones is fully capable of outshining his teammate, on the stat sheet if nothing else. Don’t forget this, either: when a rookie receiver makes a mistake, it’s a lot less notable than when a rookie cornerback makes a mistake. Playing offense will give Jones a natural benefit of the doubt.
Which rookie is going to impact the Bills most in 2017?
This poll is closed
1st Round CB Tre’Davious White
2nd Round WR Zay Jones
Another rookie (make case in comments)