Is Dawson Knox the Bills' long-term answer at tight end?

Will the second-year tight end take that next jump in Year 2?

Louie DiBiase
June 15, 2020 - 1:15 am

The 60-year history of the Buffalo Bills doesn't include a lot of success stories at the tight end position.

The top-20 all-time leading receivers in the franchise's history includes just one tight end in Pete Metzelaars, who comes in at No. 12 with 2,921 yards. Paul Costa is the only Bills tight end to surpass 700 yards in a season when he did it in 1967, finishing with 726. Charles Clay is, surprisingly, one of the consistent players at the position for the Bills from a numbers standpoint, surpassing 500 yards in three straight seasons.

It is a mediocre history, but what about the present-day roster?

The Bills are ready to feature second-year tight end Dawson Knox in 2020 as the starter again, after a rookie season that saw the Ole Miss product finish with 28 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

Was there enough promise on the field in 2019 to believe Knox should be the answer in 2020 and long-term? 

The numbers aren't overly impressive, but tight ends don't tend to blow up the box score as rookies. Not even the league's best at the position were able to do that over the last decade. 

Knox's numbers aren't too far off from the likes of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, and former New England Patriots/current Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski in their rookie seasons.

 

Zach Ertz:           George Kittle:         Rob Gronkowski:

36 receptions        43 receptions          42 receptions

469 yards              515 yards                546 yards

4 touchdowns       2 touchdowns         10 touchdowns

 

All three had the edge in receptions and yards, but Knox has the upper hand in an area that should make Bills fans very excited about his potential: yards per-reception. 

The rookie averaged 13.9 yards per-reception, third-highest among the entire position. Knox also was tied for the third-most yards on receptions 20-plus yards down the field with 160. 

One could make the argument Bills quarterback Josh Allen had the most success finding Knox deep over anyone on the offense. The two connected on plays of 49, 37, and 33 yards.

Many of which were highlight-reel catches from Knox. 

The largest play came against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, primarily through the run after the catch. Another area that Knox thrives in.

There is a lot to like about Knox heading into 2020, but there is a key area of his game that needs to be cleaned up if a Year 2 jump is coming. Drops.

For every jaw-dropping catch down the field Knox made, there was a brutal drop on passes that were "gimmes" if you will. According to FOX Sports, Knox had the third-most drops in the league with 10. Now keep in mind drop statistics vary from platform-to-platform, but the point remains the same. The drops can't continue if Knox is going to be a featured weapon on the offense moving forward. 

Tight end is an evolved position in the NFL that now has elite passing targets across the league becoming focal points of their offense. Knox has many similar traits to those that have become stars at the position. Now the consistency has to come for him to take that next step in 2020. 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @DiBiaseLOE

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