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Film analysis: Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox

A look at tight end Dawson Knox—2019 third-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills continued to add to their offensive makeover by selecting Dawson Knox, tight end from Ole Miss, in the 2019 NFL Draft. If you’re into numerology, Knox was selected with the 33rd pick in the 3rd round (and his number was 9 last season). If you’re not into numerology, you’d likely prefer to know that Knox saw limited playing at college. The bulk of his tight end work came over the last two seasons, appearing in 17 games.

Knox had 39 catches for the Rebels, accumulating 605 yards, but zero touchdowns. A 15.5 yards-per-catch stat looks pretty good though. By all appearances, Knox is a project at the position with solid upside.

Play 1

We’ll start with an upside clip. Dawson Knox doesn’t shy away from blocking. When he’s able to square up and get low he can be pretty effective as well. A trip through his film will find plenty of good examples of blocking.

Play 2

Knox is also a bit of an unfinished product when it comes to blocking. At times he appeared unsure of his assignment, arriving late or with an odd approach angle. Sometimes he leans in too far and loses the leverage battle. Or like we see here, he struggles on occasion tracking/predicting his opponent’s movement and maintaining the block. This isn’t to come down on Knox, but to point out areas he will likely seek to work on.

Play 3

Dawson Knox was asked to line up all over from out wide to in the backfield. Despite that, his route tree focused on the middle of the field. Though he wasn’t asked to run a complex set of routes he did show some flashes of polish. The slight bend in this route throws off the defensive backfield. The only person who looks like he might have a shot at breaking up the pass is the official. A poorly thrown ball leads to Knox needing to make a major adjustment.

Play 4

Here’s a comparable route but with a better-thrown ball and an improved defensive response. Despite the early contact, Knox maintains his focus and catches the ball away from his body and keeps running. A good angle to the sideline gets some yards after the catch and avoids a punishing hit.

Play 5

Not every play goes as planned and it’s always interesting to see what happens when something is awry. Knox tips the pass to himself and shows off good concentration to make the catch. From there he proves he can move a small pile as he fights for the first and more.

Play 6

This is one of the best examples of a more complex route from Dawson Knox. The pauses highlight the quick turns Knox makes. For what essentially amounts to a two-year tight end, the potential looks pretty bright. Some changes in speed show up too on this play. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely encouraging.


The Buffalo Bills have been happy to keep a project tight end or two on the roster under Sean McDermott. Dawson Knox is likely the latest in that line. His route running and receiving abilities seem ready to compete right away with the Bills. Blocking appeared a little inconsistent and for Knox this is the bigger area to keep an eye on. While more practice and coaching are bound to improve his game, he’s also about to see a jump in the level of competition he’s facing.