Orchard Park, N.Y. — When Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane traded up back into the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft to take Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox, some fans may have scratched their head a bit after a glance at his college stats.
Knox played in a star-studded offense in Ole Miss, which was exciting according to the 22-yard-old former high school quarterback because every play had the potential to go for a touchdown.
Ironically Knox finished his college career with no touchdowns. But his tight ends coach at Ole Miss Maurice Harris, who’s now at Liberty, explained that he was just a victim of how many talented players the Rebels had in their offense.
Now that Knox is in the NFL and set to compete for playing time at tight end for the Bills with former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft and holdover Jason Croom, Harris thinks Knox’s speed is going to surprise NFL defenders.
“His speed is deceiving,” Harris recently said in an interview with Howard Simon on WGR 550 radio. He gets on you fast. … I think one thing he’ll be able to take advantage of is when he’s matched up against linebackers. Guys that are in the box that are trying to cover him, the majority of these guys can’t run with him. They don’t have the split speed that he has.”
Knox ran an unofficial 4.51 at his Ole Miss pro day, surely sky-rocketing his draft stock. When there started to be a run on tight ends in the third round after Beane took running back Devin Singletary with an earlier pick, he had to jump back up to get Knox.
“He’s a very good athlete. He tested well. (I) was able to see him live this year versus South Carolina. And warming up, you could just see,” Beane said. “I didn’t feel like they used him to accentuate some of the things that he does well. He’s one of those guys, he is a combo guy. Some of the tight ends we think are truly just an F flex or some are just a Y that you really don’t want to include in the passing game a lot. I do think that he is a dual threat. I think he’s got upside. I think that the biggest thing that he’s had is he’s had some durability things that have held him back. We think that we’ve got a good idea of how to handle that. He’ll come in here and he’ll compete.”
Iowa tight end Noah Fant impressed at the NFL Combine with some pretty impressive numbers. He ran a 4.5 40 and his athleticism at the tight end position had experts fawning over his potential as a playmaker.
Knox isn’t that far off from Fant when it comes to athleticism. Getting him in the third round after Fant went in the first is a significant value for Beane and the Bills.
But he still does need to prove that he can produce. He thinks he’ll be able to and he’s going to rely on that athleticism.
“I know that I have the athletic tools to be able to do anything that’s asked of me,” he said after getting drafted. “I’m really confident in the way that I can run around and I can get under people’s pads and move them off the ball. I want to be that three-down tight end that’s asked to do everything and I know I can do that. Whether you split me out running a route against a corner or safety or have me in the box blocking a d-end, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to do it.”
How will Knox fit in Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense? Perfectly if you ask him.
“I’m looking forward to getting under a system that utilizes a lot of motions and a lot of different mismatches that I can help the offense exploit a little bit,” he said.