After ranking third on Pro Football Focus’ list for rookie-of-the-year candidates after Week 1, Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White ended regular season play ranked as the top rookie in the NFL. With a cumulative PFF grade of 91.6, White edged out fellow rookie corner Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints as well as Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, who earned grades of 89.9 and 89.4 respectively.
According to PFF, what ultimately led to White winning the award was his consistency throughout the season. He led all corners with number of defensive snaps played and finished 13 games with a grade of at least 70.
White stepped in right from Day 1 and showed that he didn’t just belong in this league, but he was ready to dominate it. White has held a top-three spot on this list for all 17 updates, and after claiming the top spot after Week 14, he never looked back. The former LSU star finishes the year ranked third among all cornerbacks with his elite overall grade, and he was as reliable a corner as there was all season. He led all corners with 1,093 defensive snaps played, and he finished 13 games with a grade of at least 70.0. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 68.2 passer rating when targeting White in coverage, and he was directly responsible for an incompletion (whether it be via pass breakup, interception or proximity in coverage) on 23.4 percent of the targets into his coverage, well over the league average of 15.0 percent. The Bills are in the playoffs for the first time this century and the play of PFF’s rookie of the year is a big reason why.
As we learned in 2015 with Bills rookie Ronald Darby, winning Pro Football Focus’ award does not guarantee being the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. It will be difficult convincing the various national reporters that White has had more of an impact than players like Marshon Lattimore or Alvin Kamara for the Saints. Perhaps the Bills improbable playoff run will be enough to convince voters of White’s contributions.