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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Zay Jones, WR, ECU

Jones was incredibly productive for ECU in 2016. Could he be productive for the Giants in 2017?

NCAA Football: Navy at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With the offseason addition of Brandon Marshall, the New York Giants put themselves in the conversation for the most dangerous receiving corps in the NFL. Brandon Marshall, however, isn’t a long-term answer for the Giants. The 33 year old receiver should still be a quality option, but his time is limited. Behind Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, the Giants have journeyman speedster Tavarres King, and second year players Roger Lewis Jr. and Darius Powe. But while Lewis and Powe are certainly intriguing, neither could (yet) be considered a long-term answer either.

The Giants might turn to the draft to find a player who can compete with the youngsters on their roster and add to the long-term stability of their receiving corps.

Eastern Carolina’s Zay Jones has built on a college career that saw him set the FBS record for most receptions with a strong Senior Bowl and combine performance. Has he managed to put himself on the Giants’ radar?

Measurables

Pros

  • Good length with a solid blend of speed and quickness
  • Good production as a freshman, sophomore, and junior -- incredible production as a senior. 158 receptions for 1,746 yards.
  • Versatile. Can play the slot (Y) or flanker (Z) receiver positions.
  • Great hands and catches everything thrown to him.
  • Good concentration when the ball is in the air.
  • Shows good body control and adjustments to the ball. Makes tough catches look easy.
  • Father played in the NFL for 14 years. Reportedly loves the game of football.

Cons

  • Production is inflated by scheme. Often used on bubble screens.
  • Small hands at just 9 inches.
  • Slight build. Could stand to add some mass to fight off aggressive corners, but might it might impact his athleticism.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

At first blush, Jones seems like a taller version of Sterling Shepard. A slot/flanker with dependable hands, big-time production, able to make plays after the catch, and an NFL pedigree, so it would be a no-brainer that he would fit with the Giants.

However, the question of whether or not he is even on their radar should be asked. It has nothing to do with the presence of Brandon Marshall, Tavarres King, or Roger Lewis Jr., but instead is a physical question. Teams around the league use physical thresholds to eliminate some players from their boards. Looking at their draft history, one of the Giants’ thresholds is hand size and under I can’t find an instance of the Giants drafting a receiver with hands smaller than 9 ½ inches. Big hands offer a number of advantages for a receiver, making it easier for them to snag the ball out of the air and secure it against defenders. It makes sens that other physical atributes aside, the Giants would want receivers with big mitts.

Jones’ 9” hands fall short of that threshold, but on the other hand (no pun intended), he catches pretty much everything thrown to him.

So I think the short answer is, he would fit in the Giants, but it seems unlikely that they would select him.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 55th overall

CBS Sports - 72nd overall

Draft Countdown - 79th overall

Draft Tek - 45th overall

Final Thoughts

Jones may not find his way on to the Giants’ roster, but he is going to make some coach, and quarterback, very happy. He has the versatility to line up in the slot or out wide, is a dependable option to keep the chains moving, and has the ability to make things happen after the catch.

He also seems like a driven young man with a passion for the game. Those types of players tend to not fizzle out, but instead make the most of their talent. Zay Jones might not be the prototypical “X” receiver that teams covet and scouts drool over, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a productive player at the next level.