If NFL Draft trades weren't allowed, Tre'Davious White may have ended up with the Chiefs.
Instead, the Bills' star cornerback was taken with one of the selections sent from Kansas City to Buffalo when the Chiefs moved up to take Patrick Mahomes in 2017. The Bills had the No. 10 pick, but they sent it to Kansas City for the No. 27 pick that year and a handful of other picks. The Chiefs took Mahomes at 10th overall, and Buffalo nabbed White out of LSU at 27th overall.
Almost four years later, White's next task in a Bills uniform is simple yet complicated: Slow down Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
“(White's) a tremendous player,” Hill told media Wednesday before the game. ”I think he fits their team very well. I just feel like at the end of the day, it’s still football. I’ve played this sport since I was five years old. I’m still going to go out there and compete and work my tail off. He’s going to win some plays; I’m going to win some plays. That’s just how it goes. Now, I’m going to do my job so I can win the majority of the plays, but let’s be realistic. That’s that.”
Hill is one of the toughest covers in the NFL. He's got 4.29 speed in the 40-yard dash, and he's used that to average more than 14 yards per catch in his career. Paired with the cannon right arm of Patrick Mahomes, Hill is liable to be open deep at a moment's notice. He showed his possible dominance in Week 12 against the Buccaneers when Hill had seven catches for 203 yards in the first quarter.
White, at 5-11 a bit taller than Hill, isn't a stranger to big-name receiver matchups. He's frequently tasked with guarding the opposition's best pass-catcher, and his success in those meetings is what prompted Buffalo to pay White $70 million in a four-year extension this past offseason.
In 2020, White allowed just 37 of 65 passes attempted with him in direct coverage to be completed, a 56 percent rate that modern NFL quarterbacks wouldn't be proud of. The overall statline against White added up to just a 79.9 quarterback rating.
Maybe more importantly for Buffalo, White has dominated Hill before. The 2020 season was fantastic for the Chiefs' top receiver — he had 87 catches for 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 regular season games. But his worst outing came against White and the Bills in Week 6.
Hill caught all three of his targets that night but for just 20 yards. Kansas City mostly went away from that matchup, instead choosing to attack on the ground in a Chiefs 26-17 win.
That was White's second game against the team whose draft pick he was taken with. In the first, as a rookie, White intercepted Alex Smith in a Bills win. Then in that second one, he kept one of the NFL's most unguardable receivers totally in check.
Third time's the charm, they often say, but for whom? It's the rubber match, a postseason showdown to take the White vs. Hill matchup from a 1-1 won-loss record to an edge for one of the pair. It's also Hill's chance to show he can succeed against White's coverage.
Buffalo and Kansas City both have other talented players, including ones taken with other picks in that White trade on draft night in April 2017. But whoever wins the individual matchup between White and Hill will give his team a huge advantage — potentially enough to turn a draft night deal more than three years ago into the deciding factor in the AFC's Super Bowl representative.