Tre’Davious White: “I’m one of the best doing it”


Former LSU Tiger Tre’Davious White is always cracking jokes and sporting a smile, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a competitor. “I go out and compete no matter who it is,” White told reporters in 2017 when being questioned about his matchup with Rob Gronkowski. “I’m out there too and I’m one of the best doing it; I feel that way and he feels like he’s one of the best doing it, so I’m going to go out and compete.” 

White isn’t lying. He is easily one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. His 2018 season is regarded by many as a down year, but that was really only because he didn’t get his hands on as many balls as he did his rookie season. His interceptions went down from four to two, and his pass deflections had a steep dropoff from 12 in his first season to three last year. But in just about every other statistic, his numbers improved.

White’s defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, stated that White has the “physical attributes, athletic ability, and mental toughness to match up against the best receivers week in and week out,” and that’s exactly what he did. White shadowed some of the best receivers on the Bills’ schedule last year. In those matchups, White was targeted 23 times and surrendered 16 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

Shadowed Matchups Per Pro Football Focus

The production by those talented receivers was a major chunk of the statistics surrendered by White in 2018. On the season, White was targeted 52 times and gave up 30 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns. But White still managed to finish fourth in Pro Football Focus’s Coverage Snaps per Reception statistic, only allowing a reception every 18.8 snaps when he was the primary cover player.

Career Coverage Statistics per PFF




As a corner, your moneymakers are your feet, and White has some of the quickest feet in the league. His quick feet allow him to play a multitude of techniques. He is very good in press-man coverage, even if he sometimes wastes footwork at the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to motor step (quick, 6-inch steps backwards) then smoothly transition and near-hand jam to get into the receiver’s pocket.

At times, you will see White bluff punches and/or ‘kickstep’ at the receiver forcing an outside release, and that improper footwork can get most defensive backs into trouble. But White has the feet to recover and the technique to execute counters in order to cut off a receiver trying to work back across his face.

White is also very good in a bail technique. Here, he shows press man but then bails on the snap and is “trapping” the #2 receiver. If that receiver runs an out pattern, White has the option to jump it. The receiver runs a hitch, but it’s White’s quick feet and closing speed that allow him to force fourth down.

It’s pretty incredible how low White can keep his hips and center of gravity down so that he can quickly flip his hips or rotate as needed.


White is an aggressive and physical corner but not in the sense that probably comes to mind. He isn’t a bump-and-run corner like Stephon Gilmore, the kind of guy that wants to immediately punch at the line of scrimmage. White is the type of corner that will remain patient and let the receiver declare the release, then get his hands on the receiver. You see White force DeAndre Hopkins into an outside release then show that he is confident in his feet and hands in the contact zone.

One thing that was even more noticeable in 2018 was how pesky White was.

His ability to get hands on the receiver and disrupt their route running really frustrated some of the NFL’s best receivers.

But he really shines in cutting routes off, which is a very difficult skill to pull off, and you need to have quick feet in order to consistently win that way. Here, you see White bluff a punch but then cut off Davante Adams‘s route, keep his feet moving, and nearly pick off a pass intended for TE Jimmy Graham.

He is so good at mirroring the receiver out of the release and into the drive phase, especially if that receiver is trying to stretch vertically. He consistently cuts off routes and gets his hands on receivers while using the boundary as another defender. You see that happen against DeAndre Hopkins in week six as White deters the throw.


Typically when you talk about leverage it’s a receiver understanding how to attack leverage on a corner, but White has a keen understanding of leverage because he has very good spatial awareness. Here, the receiver motions to a squeezed set but then tries running an intermediate speed out. White baits the throw then drives on the ball for the interception. He understood what the receiver’s alignment and route stem were attempting to do, and he beat the receiver to the mark.

White’s ability to process leverage and how the offense typically attacks it with their route combinations helps him deter a lot of throws. Here he is executing a trap coverage as the Bills send a blitz. He squats on the flat route and deters the throw, giving his teammate, Jordan Poyer, time to bring the QB down.


His ability to read releases, get into the body of receivers, and then mirror them in and out of breaks really makes life difficult for opponents. These are the same skills that helped White only surrender three passes over ten yards his senior season at LSU. It’s also why his yards per reception average dropped from 15.4 to 11.9 in 2018. You see White get into receiver Corey Davis‘s pocket then sense the in-breaking route. White is in-phase the entire route, but more importantly, near the breakpoint.

White’s ability to disrupt just before a breakpoint in a route is uncanny. The receiver thinks that he is going to have a little room to operate at the top of the route, but then White closes, gets his hands on the receiver, and makes the break at the same time, forcing a QB to go elsewhere.



Ball Tracking & Body Control

Overall, I thought White played rather well in coverage last season, but there were some chunk plays registered against him.

Passes over 20 yards Per SportsInfo Solutions

White was targeted 25 times on passes over 20 yards, nearly double from 2017. He allowed six completions for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

I will say, the coverage on most of the explosive plays wasn’t horrible. White lost sight of the ball and couldn’t adjust his body in order to make a play on the ball, or the throws were just dimes. As his defensive coordinator, Frazier said this completion to Robby Andersonwas a really good throw outside and away from the coverage, right on the sideline, matter of fact, and the receiver had to toe tap to get in bounds.”


White finished sixth on the team in solo tackles with 49, but that number could have been much better if he hadn’t missed ten tackles.

The Shreveport, Lousiana native has a tendency to dip his head and not wrap up the runner.

This occurred several times last year, and it finally caught up to him in week 17, when he was injured and forced to leave the game.


Penalty calls plagued White in 2018. He committed the types of penalties that extend drives and lead to points for opposing offenses.

I outlined how disruptive White can be; it’s that same grabbiness that led to six defensive holding calls, two pass interferences, and one illegal contact call. I think that the referees adjusted to White’s physical nature and started calling more penalties on him in 2018. He was always a guy that was pushing the envelope, but he only had three penalties called on him in 2017. Here are all of the penalties called on him his second year in the NFL.



The third-year corner is proud of what he has accomplished but knows that he isn’t a finished product, “I put together two great seasons to start it off,” White told Good Morning Football, “but I’ve still got a ways to go.”

White is a polished player with an upper-tier skill set; he just needs to reduce the number of penalties he takes, improve his tackling, and continue to minimize big plays in order for him to be mentioned as the top corner in the NFL and not just on the Bills.

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