While I understand the timing may be bad as Zay Jones is out for the rest of spring with knee surgery, I still believe he is in position to take over as the team’s number one receiver. Coming off a poor rookie season where he had 27 receptions, 316 yards and two touchdowns, Jones didn’t exactly live up to his draft status.
A lot is to blame on the offense the Bills ran and quarterback Tyrod Taylor – who was not known for putting the ball in the most catchable areas and doesn’t exactly throw near defenders.
Zay is a talented receiver and for those who don’t think so, he holds the NCAA record for receptions in a career (339) and receptions in a season (158). He is 6-foot-2 and has well above average hands, despite what the drop numbers may say from his rookie season. He doesn’t have elite speed, but has solid route running and can play inside and outside. All-in-all, he is a good receiver.
I see Jones competing for the number one receiver role this season. Kelvin Benjamin is good, but he is a big-time possession receiver that doesn’t necessarily get in and out of breaks well. Zay is a more complete receiver. I believe he has been humbled by his rookie season and the off the field incident he had earlier this offseason. That could push him even more to prove he was worth the No. 37 pick in the 2017 draft and show his teammates and coaches what he is capable of.
Also in Jones’ favor is the time it takes for a wide receiver to adjust from the college to pro game. While both were injured for a majority of last season, No. 6 overall pick Corey Davis (Tennessee) and No. 7 pick Mike Williams (LA Rams) each had tough rookie seasons despite being picked a round prior. Davis recorded 34 receptions for 375 yards while Williams had 11 receptions for 95 yards.
The top performer in the 2017 draft class for receivers was JuJu Smith-Schuster with 58 receptions, 917 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he was playing with the best receiver in football on the other side of the field, the best running back in football in the backfield and a Hall of Fame quarterback.
I have been a fan of Jones ever since his Senior Bowl performance prior to being drafted. He dominated all week and proved that he can be a stud receiver. I expect him to show more of that this season in a new offense and with a new quarterback.