2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Zay Jones
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Over the past few years, Jones was one of the most productive wide receivers in college football. Jones re-wrote record books, becoming the FBS' all-time career leader in receptions as he dominated his level of competition. After his final college games, Jones played well when he went against top competition at the Senior Bowl. That performance illustrated that Jones wasn't just a good college player, but a serious NFL prospect who could be a nice value pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jones showed continued improvement over the past four seasons one his way to becoming a dominant college receiver. He contributed as a freshman (62-604-5) and sophomore (81-830-5) before breaking the 1,000-yard mark as a junior with 98 receptions for 1,099 yards and five touchdowns. As a senior, Jones took his game to a prolific level with 58 receptions for 1,746 yards with eight touchdowns. That earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and all week in Mobile, he was separated from the all-star cornerbacks with his combination of quickness and route-running. While Cooper Kupp got more hype, Jones was the most impressive wide receiver in Mobile, and sources have told WalterFootball.com that Jones graded out higher than Kupp.
For the NFL, Jones is a polished wideout who should be able to compete quickly. He has good hands and is very reliable to secure the ball. Additioanlly, he has very good technique to snatch the ball out of the air with his hands and secure it.
There is no doubt that Jones is a quality route-runner and doesn't have wasted steps or get sloppy with his body control. Jones has a quick release off the line and is sudden in and out of his breaks. Because of that, Jones is dependable to generate separation and get open for his quarterback. Jones is quick and uses his size well in the open field to get yards after the catch, too. He is also very good at tracking the ball and has late hands to reel the ball in. While Jones isn't a burner, he is a threat to challenge teams over the top with his quickness and ability to make difficult catches.
In the NFL, Jones could move around from the outside to the slot to get him in position to contribute. He isn't the biggest or fastest wide receiver, but he is effective and a dangerous weapon. However, Jones is short of elite size and speed to make him a true No. 1 receiver at the next level.
As a pro, Jones would fit best as a No. 2 or 3 receiver. He could be a good complement to a true No. 1 wideout though. Jones can line up on the outside or move inside as a slot receiver. His being more of a No. 2 or 3 makes him a second-day pick. In speaking to team sources, Jones has graded out as a third-round pick.
Player Comparison: Roddy White. Jones' style of play reminds me of Roddy White. White wasn't the biggest or fastest, but he was quick weapon who ran good routes and generally had reliable hands. In the NFL, it wouldn't surprise me if Jones ends up being a pro similar to White.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, Dallas, New England, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles Rams
There could be a lot of teams in the market for an upgrade at wide receiver, so Jones should be a Friday night selection.
Buffalo needs a wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins. The Bills badly need a reliable receiver to help their passing offense when Watkins is out of the lineup and exploit teams sending double coverage his direction. A dependable receiver like Jones could be a good complement as a third-round pick.
The Eagles have to get more weapons for Carson Wentz. They need a true No. 1 receiver for Wentz and supporting receivers. Jones could fill the role of the latter. The Ravens could consider Jones as they need a replacement for Steve Smith.
Tennessee needs to find more receiving weapons for Marcus Mariota. Jones could be in play for the Titans' pair of third-round picks.
The Buccaneers need a receiver to pair with Mike Evans. Getting a receiver like Jones on Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft would make sense.
Kansas City supposedly wanted Laquon Treadwell last year, so adding more receiving talent to go with Jeremy Maclin could be a possibility for the Chiefs. Dallas has Terrance Williams entering free agency, and considering the durability issues of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys could use another receiver for Dak Prescott. Jones could be a nice fit in Dallas.
Tom Brady is a miracle worker with what he produces with his receiving corps. New England could use more outside receivers for Brady, however.
The 49ers badly need more wide receiver talent, while the Bears may have to replace Alshon Jeffery. The Rams need more receiving for the disappointing Jared Goff, and Jones could be an asset to helping Goff improve in his second season.
2017 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie's | Walt's
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2017 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
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