Two rounds and two needs addressed for the Buffalo Bills.
One night after filling a major hole at cornerback, they picked highly productive wide receiver Zay Jones from East Carolina in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night following a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bills moved up from the 44th spot in the round to 37th. The Bills also gave the Rams the 91st overall pick, in the third round, which they acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs to move down from 10th to 27th to grab former LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White Thursday night.
Buffalo also picked up the 149th overall selection, in Saturday's fifth round.
Jones will be reunited with his former college position coach, Phil McGeoghan, who fills the same role with the Bills. Coach Sean McDermott said that was a factor in the decision to select Jones.
In 50 career games at East Carolina, Jones caught a staggering 399 passes for 4,279 yards (but averaged only 10.7 yards per catch) and 23 touchdowns.
"I don’t even know if I’ve caught that many in my life, right?" McDermott said. "I mean that’s a lot of balls. It’s a ton of balls in a college career, that’s very impressive. You can’t ignore it. You talk about fundamentals – throwing and catching. You guys have heard me talk about fundamentals before, that’s an important part.
"When that ball is thrown in his area, he’s catching it. So, we hope that that continues and so that gives you consistency. There’s not a whole lot to incompletions, right? I don’t like those. They don’t move the chains very often, so that’s important for us."
As with most of the Bills' free-agent and draft acquisitions so far, Jones offers versatility.
"When you look at his position flexibility, he can move inside, he can play outside and that was also a big part of it as well," McDermott said. "You're not just talking about a guy that can play one position, so he does have position flex. That said, as a young player, we've got to progress him at the right pace. So he's going to come in and learn the system and go from there."
Jones' father, Robert, played linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys from 1992 to 2001 and won three Super Bowls. His uncle, Jeff Blake, played quarterback in the NFL from 1992 to 2005, and was a Pro Bowler with the Cincinnati Bengals.
"You look at Zay's history and the tradition of his family of playing in the NFL, that's obviously a good part and a good person, again, off the field in being able to do things right really through the history of his entire college career," McDermott said. "And then on the field, the production he had at the receiver position on the field, consistency in the hands and just being that consistent performer.
"So I feel good about this pick. He's going to add to the mix of what we already have at the wide receiver position and continue to earn the right just like the rest of the players, so I feel good about it."
Jones has started since the middle of his freshman year. Scouts rave about the quality of his hands. He ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He's able able to use his size (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) to his advantage, especially when matched up against smaller defensive backs.
"I would say I am a natural football player," Jones said during a conference call with media covering the Bills. "I have natural instincts for the game, I have the best hands in this draft class. I am a pass-catcher, and I can get open quick, separation and go score.
"And, besides, that I am great teammate, a great teammate. I play for my team. All-around hard worker."