Clearly stated, our computer "thinks" that
the only WR on the Buffalo Bills with a
potential elite talent level -- is Donald
Jones...not Stevie Johnson, and not
David Nelson. Stevie has thrown our
computer for a loop for parts of two
seasons...we have projected Johnson as more a
"bust", impossible to sustain the high level of
output he had for a few weeks in 2010. Johnson
has been very good, but has been fading of late.
One of the reasons that the Bills haven't made
Stevie a long-term offer is...I think the Bills
visually know, what our computer scouting
analysis shows us internally -- Johnson is OK,
but not elite. Our computer analysis does
"think" Jones could be elite...
Our Week-11 computer analysis really is
revving up on Jones, partially because of the
talent...but also because Johnson is banged up,
and Nelson has a tweaked ankle and is coming off
a sickness. However, also hidden in all the
Bills WR discussions is the fact that Ryan
Fitzpatrick (we feel) also has a growing
trust in Jones (much like early 2011 Antonio
Brown)...an upswing on Jones-Fitzpatrick that no
one in the Fantasy Football media is noticing.
We think the signs of an emerging good/great WR
is there if you look. However, you first have to
possess the belief that Jones might be an elite
NFL possession/slot WR...and we do.
It's easy for us to claim Jones as something
special on "feelings," but let us break this
down in further analytical detail...and you can
decide if we are "seeing ghosts" or not.
Donald Jones, the Youngstown State
Jones started his college career at
Lackawanna Community College, but played well
enough to get noticed by the big boys...and
looked on his way to a transfer to Ole Miss.
Ultimately, Ole Miss backed out and Jones went
onto Youngstown State. Jones had two productive
seasons at YSU, posting 77 catches for 790 yards
with 6 TDs (11 games) in his senior season.
Jones was a solid enough performer to gain an
invite to the NFL Combine, where he tested at a
top-level athletically...producing numbers which
should have earned him a 4th-6th Round draft
pick status (to us). Instead, Jones went
undrafted...and that left many of us wondering
if there was a red-flag behind the scenes.
Opportunity with the Buffalo Bills
We had our doubts about his "make-up" erased
when Jones fought his way through the Buffalo
Bills 2010 training camp as a UDFA WR, making
the team while some other more known/higher
touted WRs got the boot. Jones played on special
teams right away, and then found himself in the
lineup when starter Roscoe Parrish was lost for
the season in Week-9. In Week-10, Jones posted 5
catches for 70 yards; and his first career TD.
Jones had sporadic output the rest of the 2010
season, but to go from UDFA to roster is an
accomplishment enough...but also becoming a
productive WR as a rookie UDFA, is a very nice
statement about Jones as well.
Jones entered the 2011 garnering a lot of
preseason chatter as a potential starter, then
he was named one...but got hurt late in camp and
missed the last few weeks. Jones played opening
day and scored a TD. Two weeks later, Jones
posted a 5 catch for 101 yard game (a yardage
high for any Bills WR in 2011 to-date). Jones
appeared to be blossoming, but had a set-back
again in Week-5 with a mild injury.
There have been several "tells" in the 2011
season, that Jones is a very valued piece of
this offense, and a favorite target of
Fitzpatrick (along with Stevie Johnson).
Here are a couple of Bills WR stats to ponder:
Targets per game in Weeks 3-10:
- 7.3 = Johnson
- 6.8 = Jones
- 5.1 = Nelson
Yards per game in Weeks 3-10:
- 52.7 = Johnson
- 40.8 = Jones
- 40.6 = Nelson
Red-Zone targets per game for all 2011:
- 1.14 = Jones
- 1.11 = Nelson
- 1.00 = Johnson
Last two games (Weeks 9-10) reception
- 8 = Nelson
- 7 = Jones
- 5 = Johnson
The reason that Jones is/will grow in
importance in the Bills offense, and the reason
why Fitzpatrick has been glowing about him --
Jones possesses most all the traits that we look
for in an elite slot/possession WR. Jones has
very good speed and agility metrics...but he's
not just fast, he also is a physical rock at 6'0
and 215 pounds, with a great bench-press for
someone his size (or any WR). He's fast, agile,
strong...and has one of the best vertical leaps
of any NFL WR (or player from any position).
When you think of Donald Jones,
conjure up a mix of Pierre Garcon and a
better version of Victor Cruz. Jones is a
true NFL weapon -- he plays a role that is
usually held by a smaller-thinner-slower type
WR...however, Jones is like a big tailback on
the loose when he gets the ball. We see from
last game's tape that the Bills are trying to
get the ball to Jones on quick passes and bubble
screen type plays...which is an excellent sign
of an outbreak upcoming. We think Jones will be
a star, and that big step forward may be in
Week-11 with the Bills other main WR core being
banged up. Jones plays a different style than
Johnson or Nelson, so they are not a threat to
him -- only staying healthy and proper
pass-targets are all that stands in the way.
Look for Jones (if healthy) to lead the Bills in
receptions the rest of 2011.
Even if Jones doesn't break-out this week,
don't despair...because it's coming.
...and if you're are digging Donald Jones
after this research, keep a 2012 eye on
Kealoha Pilares (Panthers rookie WR), but
that's for another day.
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