Jones drafted 37th overall by Buffalo Bills
Published 2:38 pm Saturday, April 29, 2017
GREENVILLE — East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones, who wrapped up his four-year career as the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision’s career and single-season receptions leader, was chosen by the Buffalo Bills in the second round (37th overall) of the 2017 National Football League Draft on Friday night.
Jones’ selection represents ECU’s highest draft choice since 2008 when running back Chris Johnson was taken by the Tennessee Titans with pick No. 24 of the first round.
Jones is the 10th ECU receiver in history to be drafted and most recently follows Justin Hardy, who was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. The Pirates have had nine players selected in the last 10 years – six since 2010.
A two-year team captain and All-American Athletic Conference honoree, Jones became the owner of the FBS career record against Navy on Nov. 19 before finishing with 399 catches. In addition to his 158 receptions as a senior in 2016, he also set AAC and ECU single-season standards with 1,746 receiving yards. Jones is one of only 19 FBS receivers all-time with over 4,000 receiving yards (4,279).
Jones topped the FBS level in three categories during his senior campaign – receptions, receptions per game (13.2) and receiving yards per game (145.5). In 12 games last fall he caught a personal-best eight touchdown passes and registered nine double-triples (catches-yards), which included a career-high 22 receptions for 190 yards at South Carolina on Sept. 17. His 22 grabs against the Gamecocks were the most by an NCAA FBS receiver in a game in 2016 and was one shy of an all-time NCAA FBS record.
The Austin, Texas native was a finalist for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award, William V. Campbell Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award, while also earning CoSIDA Academic All-America (second-team) honors as a communications major before graduating in December with a 3.547 grade point average. He was selected to a combined 14 All-America squads for his play on the field, including first-team nods by Walter Camp, The Sporting News, ESPN.com, SB Nation, Pro Football Focus and College Sports Madness, while being formally recognized as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the Heisman Trophy Trust.
With his father Robert’s selection in 1992 (24th overall by the Cowboys), the Jones’ represent the 20th father-son duo to be chosen in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, immediately following George (19th/Giants/1985) and Jamal Adams (6th/Jets/2017).
Jones, who turned 22 on last month, joins Hardy, Dwayne Harris (Cowboys/2011), Aundrae Allison (Vikings/2007), Troy Smith (Eagles/1999), Larry Shannon (Dolphins/1998), Dion Johnson (Oilers/1992), Walter Wilson (Chargers/1990), Ricky Nichols (Colts/1985) and Tim Dameron (Oilers/1973) on the list of Pirate wide receiver draft picks.
Including Jones, other Pirates selected by the Bills include LB Wayne Lineberry (1969) and Carlester Crumpler (1974).