Wide receiver Zay Jones dramatically improved his game in his second year with the Buffalo Bills. After a rocky rookie campaign in which the 2017 second-round draft pick caught just 27 of 74 targets thrown his way for 316 receiving yards and two touchdowns, the East Carolina product caught 56 passes on 102 targets for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished the 2018 season strong, recording 27 receptions for 353 receiving yards and six touchdowns in the final seven games of the year. Buffalo signed two quality free agent wide receivers in Cole Beasley and John Brown, but despite their arrivals, Jones seems to be in line for a breakout season.
“It took time for me to develop and become one of the best,” Jones said in early October of his four years of college. “I know I’m going to play in this league for a long time and I know I’m going to do well in this league.”#Bills #CoachPaint
Link: https://t.co/909Nv6Ln3Z pic.twitter.com/1j4RUeSme3
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) November 21, 2018
According to BuffaloBills.com, Jones spent the offseason transforming his body, adding roughly 10 pounds of lean muscle mass to his frame in hopes that it will help his play strength, as his bread and butter is working the short-to-intermediate area of the field.
Wide receiver Zay Jones had to work to keep this route alive..
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) June 7, 2019
Jones proved that he could make an impact on the game, despite playing in an offense that ranked 31st in passing yards-per-game (174.6) and 32nd in passing touchdowns (13) – making his own receiving totals more impressive.
WR Zay Jones TD receptions over 20 yards-
Weeks 1-10 (Pre-Allen injury): 1
Weeks 12-17 (Post-Allen injury): 4 pic.twitter.com/bctVIAdeCi
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 24, 2019
After playing through a torn labrum as a rookie and undergoing knee surgery prior to OTAs last year, Jones will enter training camp at full strength following an offseason of training under his belt – a luxury he didn’t get to enjoy just one year ago.
The additions of Beasley and Brown, along with the presence of Robert Foster, who burst onto the scene during the second half of the 2018 season, will likely cause Jones to see fewer targets than the 102 he saw last year. But what is expected to change is the quality of those targets and just what he can make of his opportunities now that opposing defenses will have to be honest with their coverages in order to defend the Bills’ multitude of receiving options.
Furthermore, second-year quarterback Josh Allen should elevate his game to a new level after struggling out of the gate as a rookie. Allen and Jones had a strong connection during the second half of the season and the pair connected for five touchdowns in their final five games. That chemistry should only continue to grow during the summer and carry into the regular season.
“I have a lot more work to do, but I’m excited to see what we’re going to be as a unit and for me individually coming up in this OTA phase and training camp phase and going into the season,” Jones told BuffaloBills.com. “We’ve got a lot of potential. For myself I have a very high ceiling and I want to push that envelope.”
Touchdown Zay Jones pic.twitter.com/7U4dt0yiua
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 23, 2019
His vast improvement on and off of the field from year one to year two signal that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout should only continue to grow, and now, entering his second year in the same scheme, Zay Jones has high expectations for himself heading into the 2019 NFL season, and Buffalo Bills fans should as well.