It was an atypical sophomore season for Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 third round pick didn’t have the luxury of a normal offseason to build upon his rookie campaign, and never really got going.
But now, with restrictions loosened, he’s making the most of his time with quarterback Josh Allen. The two have been training together in California this offseason, and of course, were both at mandatory minicamp last week.
"It was great being with Josh,” Knox said during OTAs earlier this month. “It was good hanging out off the field, but on the field was great, too. We just did a bunch of routes and it was during our first phase of Zoom meetings. So if there was a new play or route concept 'Dabes' [offensive coordinator Brian Daboll] was installing, we were able to take it straight to the field.”
If there is room for the Bills’ passing offense to improve, it would be at the tight end position. The whole group struggled last season, combining for just 40 catches for 442 yards and eight touchdowns. Lee Smith and Tyler Knox are no longer on the team, leaving Knox as the trio’s lone survivor.
He reeled in 24 passes for 288 yards and three scores.
Earlier this year, Bills general manager Brandon Beane was frank about his desire to see the tight end play improve.
"I thought it was up and down, to be honest with you,” Beane said back in January. “At the end of the year, I thought we did a little bit, Dawson started to get his groove, but it was never where the opposing defense was like, 'Man, we've got to stop their tight ends from going off.’”
Beane brought up the play of Travis Kelce, who caught 18 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns last season. This week, Knox participated in a “Tight End University Summit” with Kelce, George Kittle and retired star Greg Olsen.
The Bills could still trade for veteran Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, though injuries derailed his 2020 season.
One of the biggest areas where Knox can improve is reducing his drops. He dropped 20% of his targets as a rookie and 9% last season. To rectify the issue, he says he worked with a hand-eye trainer six times per-week for six weeks.
By all accounts, his one-on-one workouts with Allen in California were a big success.
“[Allen] kind of would work through some of the points where he would tell me what he was looking for,” Knox said. “When to give him eyes on certain routes and real little details that we were able to hammer down on some of the new stuff, which was nice."