Zay Jones 2017 NFL Draft Profile

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Overview
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 201 pounds
School: East Carolina Pirates

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.45 seconds
Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 36.5 inches
Broad jump: 11 feet, 1 inch (tied for third among wide receivers)
Three-cone drill: 6.79 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.01 seconds (tied for fifth best at 2017 Combine)
60-yard shuttle: 11.17 seconds (fourth among wide receivers)

Zay Jones 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Zay Jones might be destined to play football at the next level. After all, multiple members of his immediate and extended family enjoyed successful NFL careers. His father Robert Jones played linebacker and won three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys during their famed dynasty of the 1990s. Meanwhile, his uncle Jeff Blake made 100 starts at quarterback during a 14-year career which included a Pro Bowl invite in 1995.

Like his father and uncle before him, Jones played collegiately at East Carolina. He made a noticeable impact during all four of his seasons as a Pirate, starting 41 of 49 games he appeared in. As a junior, he pulled in 98 catches for 1,099 receiving yards and five touchdown grabs en route to team MVP honors.

But his senior season was truly prolific. He finished with an FBS single season record 158 receptions and led the American Athletic Conference with 1,746 receiving yards. For his efforts, he appeared on numerous All-American teams and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver in college football).

When all was set and done on his college career, Jones rewrote the record books both at ECU and within FBS football as a whole. His 399 receptions ranks as the highest total in NCAA Division I history. Ironically enough, he eclipsed a mark set by his former teammate in the process. Justin Hardy previously finished with 387 career catches just two seasons earlier.

Strengths

  • versatile receiver who lined up all over the field.
  • catches the ball effortlessly with his hands.
  • exceptional lateral shiftiness on slant/curl/comeback routes.
  • adjusts to the flight of the ball well, enabling him to catch passes away from body.
  • does a great job high-pointing the ball in contested catch situations.
  • dynamic in space, making him a yards after catch threat.
  • great fit for teams who incorporate a lot of “dink-and-dunk” into their pass game.
  • stayed healthy throughout the entirety of his college career.
  • high character individual who should be a good locker room presence.

Weaknesses

  • tape doesn’t show as much play strength as expected given his frame.
  • overall play speed and ability to eat zone cushions not quite at elite level.
  • needs to achieve better separation in press man.
  • struggles to set a good base when blocking which leads to him getting overpowered.
  • tends to have extended periods in games where he’s invisible.
  • too reliant on short passes; will have to display more home-run ability at next level.

NFL Comparison: Mohamed Sanu

Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans

Projection: second round

Bottom Line

Zay Jones put up historic reception numbers in college. But the big question moving forward relates to whether or not those numbers were the product of scheme more than anything. Though an obvious talent, Jones will need to prove he can beat physical cover corners in man situations. His limitations as a deep threat is also a concern.

Nevertheless, Jones comes into this year’s draft as one of the most highly coveted prospects at wide receiver. He’s a natural pass-catcher and all indications are that he’ll put in the work necessary to improve his craft. If he does so, Jones can evolve into a number one feature receiver at the next level.

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