There was so much promise surrounding Zay Jones when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2017. Not necessarily a high first round prospect at the time, but it could be argued that he could have been drafted in the later first round. He ended up being drafted 37th overall in the 2017 NFL draft. He was expected to provide stability to the receiving core but it didn’t pan out last season.
Setting the record for most career catches in college football, one thing that Jones showed the football world was the hands he had as well as the ability to get open for a play. Destined to hopefully become a big contributor to the offense, it was the complete opposite. Out of 74 passes that were thrown to him, he only caught 27 catches for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns.
It can be argued that some of those passes were overthrown or under thrown. The most notable incomplete pass was in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. Down 9-3 late in the fourth, the Bills had the opportunity to make a comeback on fourth down in Panthers territory but a pass from Tyrod Taylor to Jones seemed to have been overthrown, but then again Jones was able to get his hands on the ball. Typically, the rule for a receiver is that if they can get their hands on it, then it’s catchable.
The biggest story headline about Jones since being drafted was his incident that took place in Los Angeles where he was arrested after damaging building property. It was a scary and disturbing story in which his brother Cayleb Jones, who is a current wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings was involved in as well. Eventually, all charges were dropped and now it’s time for Jones to focus start to figure out his rhythm.
What Went Wrong With Jones in 2017?
First off, Jones is more of a slot receiver rather than a #2 option in an offense. While players have to learn adjustments all the time in a system, some players are just better off in their regular positions. Jones was typically the #2 receiver all season long and did not see much time in the slot. This could have affected his production more than likely.
With Taylor at QB, the Bills passing offense was horrendous all season long. Very rarely did Bills fans see Taylor throw the ball down field rather than using his legs in a play. If a quarterback can’t get rid of the ball, the receivers are taken out of the game, making the offenses’ job harder than it needs to be.
A third option was the how the offense was managed. Like mentioned before, the Bills were seen pounding the rock rather than airing it out. There was a lot of dysfunction and miscommunication which made the team suffer in various games that would ending up costing them a potential win.
What To Look For in Jones in 2018
Jones has the chance to bounce back from a disappointing rookie season. He’s a great athlete but now it’s about producing. With the receiving core looking very thin, Jones will have to step up and play as an important factor in the hopeful Bills passing offense. Don’t expect Jones to start from the bottom and get to the top, but Jones has the high ceiling if he’s used right in the offensive scheme.
2018 Season Projections:
50 catches, 650 yards, 6 touchdowns.