ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Dawson Knox was drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft to be the answer for the Bills at tight end.
After a promising rookie season, Knox is looking forward to living up to his expectations.
“I feel like year one was a tough year,” says Knox. “Just because it was my first year in the league, trying to keep my head above water, it kind of felt like I was just treading water the whole time. Finally, towards the end of the season, I felt like I was able to kind of start playing faster, not really thinking about where I’m lining up and what I’m looking at pre-snap, more just playing freely.”
The biggest problem for Knox last season was his drops. According to Pro Football Reference, Knox dropped 10 passes last year, most among tight ends.
“Most of the issues that I had were on the easier balls. Josh [Allen] would put a great ball right on my chest, I would kind of be already looking to make someone miss before I had secured that. So it’s kind of just going back to the basics, training my eyes to the tuck,” says Knox. “I had a Jugs machine all offseason which was great. And then obviously getting together with Josh a lot helped there too, so I think I’ll be prepared and ready to go this season.”
“I was with him tons, we had several throwing sessions during the offseason,” Knox adds. “So just continuing to work on that chemistry and kind of building on everything we did last year. I’m really excited to see what this year is going to be like. I feel like I’m ready to make a big leap.”
The Bills coaching staff is also looking forward to Knox making a leap this season.
“We do expect a year of growth, a year of development,” said head coach Sean McDermott in June. “I’m really encouraged by the way that he’s approached things, really encouraged by the way that he’s worked on his body this offseason.”
“Sometimes what you see the first year is the lack of at times consistency, and I think Dawson is aware of that and he’s committed to developing to the point where that becomes a strength of his and we’re here to help him with it,” McDermott added. “So, I think he’s off to a good start in the early part of his second season. As Josh mentioned he’s very confident in Dawson, which is an important piece. A good quarterback, tight end combination… that’s a big piece of quarterback’s success is where he has that security blanket.”
Knox thinks that the addition of Stefon Diggs will only help him this season. With Diggs attracting attention on the outside, Knox hopes the middle will be more open for him. The second-year tight end is already amazed with what he’s seen out of his new teammate.
“He’s a workhorse. He’s out there grinding just as hard as everybody. Seeing him run some routes, I’ve already tried to start picking up some certain things that he does while he’s running routes, to see if I can do it myself,” says Knox. “A lot of times, it’s very difficult, but it’s just impressive to watch. Obviously, everyone’s really excited to have him in the huddle with us.”
Diggs has already given Knox a nickname— “Mr. Stiff Arm.”
“He’s called me that a couple of times in the locker room,” Knox said with a laugh. “Any compliment from him, I’ll take. So that’s nice.”
Diggs isn’t the only star that Knox has tried to learn from this year. Over the offseason he was able to train with 49ers tight end George Kittle, who Knox call the tight end he tries to emulate the most.
“I got to know him a little bit. He’s a great dude. Super high energy, really fun to work with, workout with, and compete against. But also, just watching him what he’ll does on film is amazing,” says Knox. “He’ll go block a defensive end and then go outrun a corner and score a touchdown. So I think it’s really fun to see his athleticism in space, the way he creates separation and he’s hard to bring down, too.”
While no one is expecting Knox to turn into Kittle, if he can indeed take a leap like he hopes, Knox will be a big part of the Bills’ success this season.