Road to the NFL: Dawson Knox Draft Profile
From walk-on to crucial member of the prestigious NWO’s, tight end Dawson Knox returns to his hometown for the NFL Draft with high hopes.
OXFORD, Miss. — At Brentwood Academy in the heart of the Music City, Dawson Knox began a football career that will soon take him to the NFL. He played wide receiver for his high school–until he grew four inches and picked up 50 pounds prior to his senior season and was moved to quarterback.
During that senior year, Knox only played a half a game at quarterback before going down to a season-ending ankle injury. Before the injury, he completed 9-of-17 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown. True to form, he did not let his injury get in the way of his potential.
Knox redshirted the 2015 season, but his work ethic soon pushed him to the top of the depth chart at Ole Miss. Prior to his junior campaign, Knox caught the attention of many NFL scouts, and he is now considered one of the top tight ends in the 2019 NFL Draft which, incidentally, will take place in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
Arriving in Oxford as a walk-on, Knox worked tirelessly and succeeded in proving himself to the Rebel coaching staff. He put on weight and competed hard every day in practice–and was soon the top TE on the roster by his sophomore season when he caught 24 passes for 321 yards, including a 40-yard catch in the Magnolia Bowl against LSU.
In 2018, his junior season with the Rebels, Knox notched 15 catches for 271 yards, averaging a mind-boggling 18.9 yards per catch. He made numerous big-time grabs, including the pivotal 48-yard catch and run that set up the game-winning touchdown in Little Rock against Arkansas in a come-from-behind win for Ole Miss.
Throughout his time in Oxford, Knox’s ability demanded that defenses respect his ability as a pass-catcher and, as a result, allowed more one-on-one opportunities for guys like A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf down the field. Dawson’s size and strength made him a solid option for short-yardage situations, but he could also be a tremendous downfield threat as well.
Although many believe Knox’s potential was never fully able to be realized in Phil Longo’s offensive system, that didn’t stop NFL scouts from considering him one of the steals in the upcoming draft. Knox has the size of a traditional tight end at 6-foot-4 inches and 254 pounds, yet he also possesses the speed of a receiver, running a 4.51 40-yard dash.
Knox has long been considered one of the hardest workers on the Ole Miss team, and his hard work is paying off as he returns home in hopes of getting drafted. Here are some of his accolades throughout his time at Ole Miss:
- 2019 NFL Combine Invitee
- 2018 Mackey Award Watch List
- 2018 Preseason All-SEC Third Team (Phil Steele)
- 2017 Burlsworth Trophy Watch List (Athlon, Sporting News, Phil Steele)
- Awarded the Park Stevens Memorial Award as the spring’s top walk-on
At The Combine
Though Knox did not run the 40-yard dash at the combine, he put up nice numbers for a tight end in the other drills, notching 16 reps on the bench press, jumping 34.5 inches in the vertical jump, running the cone drill in 7.12 seconds, and completing the 20-yard shuttle in 4.27 seconds.
Then, at the Ole Miss Pro Day in March Knox ran an impressive 4.51 in the 40-yard dash.
NFL.com gave Knox a 5.76 Prospect Grade, meaning their analysts believe he has the potential to become a starter in the NFL. Analyst Lance Zierlein compared Knox to Pro-Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, saying this about Knox:
“Outstanding combination of measurables and traits…he’s much more dangerous when allowed to roam the middle of the field as a more linear route-worker. His aggressiveness and talent as a run-blocker could provide him work as a combo tight end for years to come.“
Knox is so good after-the-catch, using both his speed and strength to either make defenders miss him or just straight-up run them over. He also is great for the run-game by being a solid blocker on the perimeter.
Where will Knox go in the Draft?
Though analysts are not exactly sure where exactly Knox will end up, there are many teams in need of tight ends and there are a lot of solid tight end prospects. Most analysts think he will be a second-round prospect, but whenever he does go, expect Knox to be a huge headache for defensive coordinators and defenders, alike.
“There are people that will say I’m late rounds and some say I may sneak in the first. It’s just all over the place. There is really no telling what could happen with the draft. I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”
Knox recently told The Tennessean he has had meetings with NFL teams in Arizona, Buffalo, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans and Tennessee. He had workouts at Ole Miss for others, including the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Mike Detillier, widely recognized as one of the top NFL Draft analysts, praises Knox’s abilities in this year’s annual “Mike Detillier’s NFL Draft Report.”
“Dawson is a really good athlete who displays sure hands,” Detillier writes. “He has first-rate hand-eye coordination and he is a very good route runner for someone without a lot of experience at the tight end spot. He is more of a flexed-out tight end who can stretch the deep areas of the field, and he is also effective in the short to intermediate part of the field,” he added.
“He catches the ball cleanly and he jets up the field quickly. Knox has good leaping and timing skills with the ball in flight. He is a willing blocker and does a solid job angling off a defender. He runs with the ball well after the reception and he is an aggressive player with the ball in his hands.“
Mike Detillier on Dawson Knox
Detillier’s overall summary of Knox is quite positive. “Ole Miss coaches praise his work ethic and he gives his all out on the field,” he noted.
“In the right NFL offensive system, Knox could be a real force as a pass receiver, and he’s a good athlete to stretch the deep middle of the field. He’s a very determined young man and he’s a hungry player.“
Mike Detillier on Dawson Knox
The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, and we look forward to seeing where Dawson Knox is selected. It has been a blast watching his career, and I’m excited to see what his future holds in the NFL!
Land Teller is sophomore Business major at Ole Miss. The Nashville, Tennessee native is a movie fanatic who is also a rabid Ole Miss, Saints, Titans and Predators fan.