As many of you may know, the Senior Bowl took place last week in Mobile, Alabama. The event provides a huge opportunity for seniors (invited) to prove their skills will translate to the next level. I watched every single practice of both the North and South teams, and watched most of the actual game on Saturday. It gives NFL evaluators (and nerds like myself) a chance to evaluate players competing one-on-one in a multitude of drills. While the combine offers more of a look at raw athletic measurables of the participants, the Senior Bowl gives a bit more of a game-focused perspective. You can observe in practice if a RB can hold up in pass protection, or who wins an individual matchup between WRs and CBs. Over the next few days, I hope to speak on multiple prospects that impressed me throughout the week. We will begin with Zay Jones:
Zay Jones has officially arrived. Before this past week in Mobile, Jones was considered by many as a late day 2-day 3 selection. He possess solid size (6’1’’,185 lbs) and was uber productive at East Carolina. In fact, he is the all-time NCAA leader in receptions. Granted, some of that is due to ECU’s pass-first offense which enabled players like Justin Hardy (whom I loved as a prospect) to put up ridiculous numbers. The sentiment regarding Jones was that he would run solid routes, have solid hands, and be decent underneath. However, questions surrounded his athleticism, ability to make challenging catches, and ability to stretch the defense downfield. Man, did he ever put those doubts to rest. All week long, Jones worked corners. Perhaps most impressively, he found the most success running long routes down the sideline. Besides possibly Cooper Kupp, no other receiver emerged as a better deep-threat than Jones.
Now, any expert will tell you that the actual game is far less important than the week of practices. This is true, yet Jones’s game performance was too great to ignore. He was robbed of not one, but two spectacular touchdown catches.The first came off of a poor throw from Nate Peterman, which forced Jones to have to highpoint the football while too-tapping his two feet in the back of the endzone. A truly elite catch. The second came on a deep ball, where Jones simply beat his man downfield, and made a very athletic and skilled play on the football to haul it in, and roll into the endzone. Not only did Zay show off his athleticism, but he directly displayed its effect on his on-field performance. Supposing at least a solid Combine performance, Jones has certainly put himself in the conversation for an early second round pick.