The Buffalo Bills have a top-ten tight end in the NFL in Ole Miss product Dawson Knox. The former third-round pick has become a go-to target for quarterback Josh Allen on and off the field. Knox has proven himself to be a plus pass blocker and has improved his hands each of his four seasons in Buffalo. The 26-year-old has all the skills to be a No. 1 tight end in the NFL for the next five years. This is a good thing since the Bills have him signed for four more years.
Behind Knox is where you can see a glaring issue on the roster and is a place the brain power at One Bills Drive needs to invest some time and draft capital. As of right now, Buffalo has two other tight ends on the roster: Quintin Morris and Zach Davidson. Together the duo has a combined eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Worth noting, all of those stats belong to Morris, as Davidson, a 2021 fifth-round pick of the Vikings, hasn’t registered an NFL stat.
Only having Knox isn’t anything new. The Bills’ other TE last season was Tommy Sweeney, who didn’t do much in the passing game. Buffalo will need to address the TE group further before we get to the start of training camp in 2023.
The Bills haven’t added a tight end during free agency but will have to add bodies to the roster before camp. Will that be in the draft or in the form of UDFAs or street-free agents? We don’t know yet, but they must do something before training camp arrives.
2023 NFL DRAFT ROOKIE SLEEPERS! @Chris_Chous has players to keep your eye on!!
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 3, 2023
The Bills lost another pass catcher to the Giants when reserve tight end Tommy Sweeney signed to play in New Jersey. The former seventh-round selection in 2019 was used sparingly in Buffalo during his three seasons. The Boston College product had 18 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown during his time with the Bills.
The Bills have the best tight end in the AFC East in Dawson Knox. He is a level above the Patriots duo of Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry who are a level above the Jets’ Tyler Conklin. Miami currently has Durham Smythe as its No.1 guy and has to be looking at the draft with the same lens as Buffalo.
My AFC East TE Rankings go:
While I believe Knox is the best of the group, New England having the second and third-best tight ends gives them an edge over the Bills in total room value. If Buffalo were to draft one of the names we have listed below they could, and should, pass the Pats for the best TE group in the division.
Dawson Knox is not in the upper echelon of tight ends with guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, and a healthy Darren Waller, but fans should expect him to be in the next level of names like TJ Hockenson, David Njoku, Pat Freiermuth, and Dalton Schultz. If Knox, a 2022 Pro Bowler, can build on his 48 receptions for 578 yards and six touchdowns in 2023, the Bills should have themselves a top-ten TE for the next several years.
As you have gleaned from all the above context, the Bills have to add more bodies to the TE group. I would love for them to spend a fourth or fifth-round pick on one in this year’s draft. If they could add Tucker Kraft of South Dakota State or Luke Schoonmaker from Michigan in one of those rounds, I would dance an Irish jig in my office. We have more about Schoon below, so I will focus a bit more on Kraft. He’s a big dude, standing 6’5″ and tilting the scales at 255 lbs. He was productive the last two seasons for the Jackrabbits, hauling in just under 100 receptions for close to 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s a plus blocker that thrives in play-action and would be a nice addition to the Bills.
“Dawson Knox is locked in as TE1 through 2026 but that doesn’t mean the Bills can’t add to the TE room. Just last year they put an emphasis on it and added O.J. Howard during free agency. While that didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills spend a day two or day three pick on the position. Two players to keep your eye on are Darnell Washington (Georgia) and Zack Kuntz (Old Diminion). Both are physical freaks with a lot of room to grow as football players. Washington is the more polished of the two and could be too good to pass up at pick #59 or #91. Kuntz, on the other hand, is a feasible selection at #205 as a boom or bust prospect with the bust being the more likely outcome,” @UberHansen.
“If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that Iowa knows how to develop tight end talent! Sam LaPorta is quietly being slept on in a TE draft class loaded with ability. Possessing an extreme aptitude in the receiving aspect, LaPorta will flourish at the next level in catching passes. Having great athletic ability will make him a quarterback’s best friend from day one. While LaPorta oozes talent and would be a fixture in play-action/red zone opportunities, he will need to improve his blocking ability to be a true three-down player. Still, LaPorta is fantastic value on day three and could allow the Bills to move on from Dawson Knox in the future,” @Chris_Chous.
“Sam LaPorta may not be splashiest of tight ends but he produced as the lone weapon on an abysmal Iowa offense. A nuanced route runner and serviceable blocker with room to grow. In any other tight-end class I believe he’d be getting more love. He will be a steal for whatever teams picks him up on late day two or early day three,” @SportsRoc2
“Luke Schoonmaker fits right into the Bills’ TE archetype at 6050 and 250 lbs, and he looks like a good immediate fit for how they have used TE2. He doesn’t have much of a track record as a receiver, but he is one of the best blocking TEs in this class, and Michigan used him in a wide variety of blocking assignments. Either at pick 137 or if he lasts to pick 205, ‘Schoon’ has the potential to be a plus blocker in the Tommy Sweeney role and possibly grow into more of a receiving option,” @LowBuffa.