The Buffalo Bills’ offense was once again among the elite of the elite in 2022, finishing second in both total yards per game at 397.6 and points per game at 28.4. The passing attack wasn’t too far behind, racking up 258.1 yards per game which was seventh-best in the league. Taking a quick look at advanced stats, Buffalo finished second overall in Football Outsider’s DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). The Bills were seventh in PFF (Pro Football Focus) overall grade at 86.6, and the 84.1 grade in passing was good enough for third. A lot of that credit can go to Dawson Knox, who, after Stefon Diggs, is arguably Josh Allen’s favorite target. Let’s get into more specifics on why the tight end ranks 10th on our list of the top 10 most important Bills from the 2022 NFL season.
Dawson Knox came in at No. 10 in the Cover 1 cumulative Top 10 Important Player rankings by earning nine out of 70 possible points (first-place vote = 10 points, tenth-place vote = 1). Knox’s highest ranking came from @UberHansen, who slotted him in at No. 8. The tight end just edged out Gabe Davis’ seven points and Devin Singletary’s six points to crack the list.
The name Dawson Knox may not roll off the tongue when most discuss the league’s top tight ends, but the fourth-year pro certainly deserves recognition as a top-ten player at his position. The Ole Miss product finished 12th in yards with 504 and 12th in receptions among tight ends at 46. His best attribute was coming through when it mattered most, bringing in five touchdowns in 2022. “It took some time for him to get going, but once Josh Allen and Ken Dorsey realized they had an answer for an offensive pressure valve, Dawson Knox emerged. Knox presents a mismatch for opponents and seems to be open in space more often than most other Bills receivers,” said @UberHansen. We talked a lot about drops this past season, but Knox wasn’t the issue. He finished sixth in TE catch percentage at 73.85%, and PFF credited him with just five drops throughout the regular and post-season combined.
The analytic community also places Knox right around the top ten areas in many of their categories. Football Outsiders ranked him ninth in their DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), which gives the value of the performance on plays where this TE caught the ball, compared to a replacement-level TE in the same game situations and then translated into yardage. According to NextGenStats, Knox was twelfth in YAC above expectation at +.4. @AjayCybulski added, “it took him a little time to get going, but big red zone target, great after the catch, maybe the best on the team. Also, used to run block and open up holes for Singletary and Cook.” Ajay is right, Knox finished the season with a touchdown in five of the Bills’ final six games. He also had his best season as a blocker, earning a 65.2 blocking grade from PFF. It may sound simple, but as @SportsRoc2 quips, “(Knox) was a top 10 tight end over the second half of the season.”
Game of the Year:
Knox’s best game this season came in the 32-29 home win over Miami. The former Rebel pulled in team-highs in receptions (six), yards (98), and tied in touchdowns with one.
According to Spotrac, Knox has three years remaining on a four-year, $52,000,000 contract. The deal includes a $7,000,000 signing bonus, $31,200,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $13,000,000.
Vorse’s Final Take
During the offseason, we heard about Knox working on his hands and saw him put in the time with Josh Allen and his ilk down in Nashville during the annual Tight End U get-together. He was rewarded with a career-low drop percentage of 8.2% and, as mentioned above, a career-best in blocking. The blocking is a great example of the maturation from Knox in his fourth season with the Bills. That was also captured with his post-game comments, specifically when he said, “if we’re winning games, I’m happy,” after the 20-12 home win over the New York Jets this season where he had a touchdown and four catches for 41 yards. In an offseason where Bills Mafia is asking for a WR2, upgrades in the backfield, and on the offensive line, tight end is not a question they need to worry about as long as Dawson Knox is on the field.
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