There aren’t many players that have capitalized on the post-season draft process more than East Carolina WR Zay Jones. He had a dynamic performance at the Senior Bowl, hauling in 6 catches for 68 yards, a touchdown, and another circus catch that should have been called a touchdown. At the Combine he seemingly answered questions about his long speed and short area quickness by testing well in all area. Add to that a senior season with an uber productive stat line (158 receptions, 1,746 yards and 8 TDs) and you’re left with the feeling that you’ve found a surefire starter… but this is why we watch the tape.
Jones has been one of my more frustrating evaluations. Having knowledge of his work from the outside at the Senior Bowl and his solid Combine, I expected to see a shifty, crafty receiver with a well rounded skill set. Game after game I continued to see the same red flags, and as the process wore on, I was left with more questions that answers.
— Michael Kist (@MichaelJKist) January 28, 2017
Name: Zay Jones
Size: 6’2″ / 201
School: East Carolina
Comparison: Courtney Roby (Titans/Saints)
Draft Grade: Mid 4th Round
Combine: 40 Time – 4.45, Bench – 15 Reps, Vertical – 36.5″, Broad – 133″, 3 Cone – 6.79, 20 Shuttle – 4.01, 60 Shuttle – 11.17
The Curious Case of Zay Jones pic.twitter.com/HloUlxRRrt
— Michael Kist (@MichaelJKist) March 22, 2017
Positives: Natural hands catcher the plucks from outside of his frame. Excellent body control to make circus catches and adjust to poor throws. Adept at working across the field and finding soft spots in zones. Reliable target in short-to-intermediate areas. Best routes are working inside (slant, dig) and does very good job shielding the defender from the ball. Willing blocker. Possesses athletic ability to develop into a more complete player. NFL bloodlines (father Robert Jones, uncle Jeff Blake).
Negatives: Works self to sideline on 9 routes when playing outside; consistently gets stacked and squeezed with no separation vertically. Has issues with squared up defenders squatting the top of his route stem. Glider than has trouble eating up cushion and making defender flip hips for comeback routes. Challenged by press coverage. Often goes down on first contact. More effort than elusive after the catch. Below average functional play strength and quickness. Production padded by high level of manufactured touches.
Outlook: Jones is a pure projection if the team that drafts him plans on using him outside, where his technique is very raw and his excellent Combine numbers do not show up consistently on tape. He best projects as a reliable high volume short area receiver working underneath zones until he can further develop his route tree and technique vs. press coverage.