The Buffalo Bills have had one of the league’s best pass defenses since head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier took over in 2017. Part of that is due to the duo’s scheme, but that scheme needs talent in order to function at its highest level.
The first draft choice McDermott made, given that it’s been widely reported that he had final say on selections and not then-general manager Doug Whaley in the 2017 NFL Draft, was to take the cornerstone of the defensive secondary. While they passed on some quarterbacks, the team landed a bona fide star in the secondary.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile that defensive back.
Name: Tre’Davious White
Height/Weight: 5’11” 192 lbs
Age: 26 (27 on 1/16/2022)
Experience/Draft: 5; selected by Buffalo in the first round (No. 27 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): White signed a four-year contract extension worth a total of $69 million in September 2020. That extension doesn’t technically kick in until next year, however, as this season still stays under White’s rookie deal. Thanks to some money-moving wizardry from general manager Brandon Beane, White carries a salary cap hit of just $6.782 million this season. Buffalo would be responsible for a dead-cap charge of $31.325 million if White were to be released or traded.
2020 Recap: Once again, White was the lockdown corner in Buffalo’s solid secondary, though one could argue that Tre’Davious had a down year in comparison to the seasons before. He allowed 57 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed, which was the highest completion percentage in his zone over the three seasons (dating back to 2018) that Pro Football Reference tracks such data. That also shows just how dominant White has been over his career, as he had a Pro Bowl season that was outstanding by any metric. In 14 games, White totaled 57 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 11 pass breakups, three interceptions, two tackles-for-loss, two fumble recoveries, three quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. He missed Buffalo’s Week 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans with a back injury and he was a healthy scratch for the season finale against the Miami Dolphins. In the playoffs, White had 20 tackles and two pass breakups. He played every defensive snap for the Bills in their three games, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 13-of-20 passes thrown his way for 156 yards and one touchdown.
Positional outlook: White is once again set to lead the Bills’ defensive secondary. Levi Wallace is the presumed starter across from him, and Taron Johnson should man the nickel. Siran Neal, Cam Lewis, Dane Jackson, Rachad Wildgoose, Olaijah Griffin, and Nick McCloud are Buffalo’s other corners.
2021 Offseason: White is healthy and he has participated in all offseason work to date. He did not play in the team’s preseason opener due to personal reasons, which is why he also missed practice on Sunday. He was named to the NFL Network “Top 100 Players of 2021” list, coming in at No. 95.
2021 Season outlook: White is clearly one of the league’s top corners, and the combination of his natural ability and his natural fit in Buffalo’s defensive scheme has allowed him to thrive in Orchard Park. White is an upbeat personality who can cover big receivers, speedy receivers, tight ends, slot guys—you name it, he’ll shut ‘em down. In the AFC Championship Game, White handled Tyreek Hill in the first half, and the speedster was quiet, catching just three passes for 52 yards, much of which came on a 33-yard reception. Tight end Travis Kelce, however, shredded Buffalo to the tune of nine catches and 92 yards. In the second half, Buffalo switched White on to Kelce. The big tight end caught only four more balls for 25 yards, but he did box White out in the end zone for two touchdowns. Hill, on the other hand, caught six balls for 120 yards in the second half, with 71 coming on one huge play. Teams attack the Bills where White isn’t playing, which is the ultimate sign of respect for a defensive back. White has earned that shutdown label over the course of his career.