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There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for Isaiah “Zay” Jones, the former East Carolina Pirate. The ECU Pirates are not an ordinary college team as they threw the ball an amazing 554 times in 2016 and today’s subject Zay Jones caught 158 of those passes for 1746 yards! I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, so I am going to break down what I saw in the six games I reviewed of the talented senior wideout. The games reviewed were four 2016 contests against Virginia Tech, Navy, NC State, and South Carolina as well as two 2015 games versus Temple and Florida. Here are my thoughts:

WR-Zay Jones, East Carolina 6’ 1” 197 lbs.

Year Receptions Yards YPC Touchdowns
2013 62 604 9.7 5
2014 81 830 10.2 5
2015 98 1099 11.2 5
2016 158 1746 11.1 8

Cons: His measurements may not show it, but the wideout has a skinny build. He does ok with physical coverage off the line with his quick feet; however the young playmaker gets re-routed a lot when corners get their hands on him. As a run blocker, there were more times than not that he just got in the way of a defender than actually engaged and moved them away from the play direction. Jones did not handle double coverage well, so his targets came from mostly single coverage. His concentration appeared to improve from 2015 to 2016, but there is some hesitation catching the pigskin in the middle of the field versus the sidelines where the former Pirate excels. Volume was his friend at East Carolina,seven catches in a game was his low and 22 receptions was his high in 2016. It is not likely that he will receive that many targets at the next level. I have my doubts on how fast his long speed is as he seemed to rely more on his quickness down the field. Although Jones caught almost 160 passes, he finished with a measly eight touchdowns. A score on every twenty passes grabbed demonstrates that he might only be a possession receiver at the next level. He also let a bad pass sail by him when it was clear the wideout would get rocked if he tried to catch it. And  my biggest pet peeve is that Jones doesn’t go full speed when the play is going to the other side of the field aka he jogs his route or haphazardly run blocks.

Pros: The receiver caught a lot of passes with his soft hands (158 this season) and ran a tremendous amount of clean, crisp routes in stride. He is a smooth split out/slot wideout with quick feet. Phil Savage (Executive director of the Senior Bowl) was impressed enough with his tape to give him a Senior Bowl invite. While half of his targets were short screens and crossing routes within two yards of the line of scrimmage, Jones adjusts well to the ball in the air downfield and has a big catch radius that allows him to snare the ball high or dig low for those worm burners. The former Pirate loves to make the sensational one-handed grab with a defender draped all over him; it’s too bad he doesn’t create much separation except with his crisp routes. The wideout leaves his feet quite often to make difficult catches fully extending, but then will leave his feet when it isn’t necessary to make the grab. His bouncy feet make him hard to catch, but once a defender has a hold of him; Jones seldomly breaks tackles. The hustling playmaker has good balance and always seems to know where he is on the field by managing the sidelines well. He adds a few spins and stiff-arms when necessary. Occasionally, the receiver got used on jet sweeps and threw the ball on a few trick plays including a failed two-pointer.

Overall impressions: His college volume tells a different story than his skill set. I see at best a fantasy WR3 who might play his NFL career as a WR2. He doesn’t appear physical enough to play anywhere other than the slot at the next level. The lack of touchdowns in college on so many targets and his inability to box out defenders will wash him out except in three and four wide sets. Because of the lack of physicality, I would let someone else grab him in the first or second. If Jones is there at the end of the second, select him!
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next month or so, keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley

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