Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver Zay Jones

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 24, 2017

East Carolina’s Zay Jones leaps for a catch in their game against Navy.

Zay Jones, East Carolina

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 201 lbs.
Arms: 32 1/2”
Hands: 9”
Vertical: 36.5”
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds

One of the players who saw his draft stock raise at the NFL Combine was Jones, who ran a 4.45 forty yard dash at 6’2” and 201 pounds. Some say that he should have been high on radars before then due to his 158 receptions for 1,746 yards last year. The number that stands out most to me is his 212 targets in just 12 games. The problem is that a player like Jones won’t be the focal point of an offense in the NFL.

Jones is the type of player that I watch and think that he needs to wind up in the right offense in order to be a fantasy producer. The odd part about his forty-yard dash is that his speed doesn’t necessarily show up on film. He is somewhat of a dog off the line, but definitely has a second gear. His jab step allows him to break press coverage most of the time, but he needs a bit of room to get his wheels churning. When he gets 10-15 yards downfield, the jets come on and he’ll burn most cornerbacks.

His route running doesn’t have many sudden movements, as he relies on his hands to sell defensive backs most of the time. While he played some slot with East Carolina, he is better suited to play on the perimeter. Another thing that should be noted is that he doesn’t come back and attack the ball in his routes, which could leave his quarterback vulnerable. You rarely see him with tons of open space around him, because he simply doesn’t create it.

If there is one area that could be considered his best attribute, it’d probably be his hands. He’s solid at bringing the ball in when he needs to, but has also shown the ability to catch it with his hands. Once he gets the ball in his hands, Jones plays like a guy who’s bigger than he is. Rather than trying to run around defenders, he’ll put his helmet down and try to run through them. It’s not that 6’2” isn’t big, but he is very lanky with long, skinny legs, so it doesn’t work out that well for him. He does impresses is his ball-tracking, as he doesn’t get lost when going deep.

When watching Jones, he shouldn’t be mentioned with the top-tier guys entering the draft, because he doesn’t have any one trait that stands out as great. He looks to be an average route runner who doesn’t do very much after the catch, and his speed doesn’t show off the line of scrimmage. He’ll wind up playing in the league because the effort is there and he has enough talent, but I don’t see a consistent fantasy producer without landing in the ideal spot.

Potential landing spot

With the lack of wide receivers on the depth chart in Detroit, I can see the Lions taking a shot on a player like Jones. He’d have a quarterback who could throw the ball downfield to utilize his speed, and it’s an offense that has one of the higher pass volumes in the league. With Golden Tate getting older, Marvin Jones not living up to the expectations, and the overall lack of depth on their roster at wide receiver, Jones makes plenty of sense.

NFL comparison

When thinking about another player in the NFL who benefits heavily from his offense, I think about Davante Adams. Similar to Jones, Adams was a high-round pick known for his hands coming out of college, and one who did everything pretty well, though not anything necessarily great. They both have long strides and while Jones definitely has more top-end speed, Adams out-jumps him. They are both solid enough to start in the NFL and if put into the right offense, can make a fantasy impact. We’ve already seen Adams benefit from playing with Aaron Rodgers. Keep an eye on where Jones lands before making any predictions.

To read up on some of the other high-profile NFL Draft prospects, check out the links below:

Corey Davis – (WR, Western Michigan)
Mike Williams – (WR, Clemson)
John Ross – (WR, Washington)
Taywan Taylor – (WR, Western Kentucky)
JuJu Smith-Schuster – (WR, USC)
Chris Godwin – (WR, Penn State)
ArDarius Stewart – (WR, Alabama)
Carlos Henderson – (WR, Louisiana Tech)
Chad Hansen – (WR, California)

Ep. 72: Dynasty Rookie Draft

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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