Zay Jones was born 10 months before his father won his third Super Bowl ring. But the East Carolina receiver knows full well what linebacker Robert Jones and the Dallas Cowboys did to the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s.
Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas, who played on those Bills teams, got to announce Buffalo’s selection of Zay Jones on Friday night.
“It has just been fun conversation,” said Jones, whose older brother Cayleb is a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings and whose uncle, Jeff Blake, played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons. “We get to reflect on the things [Robert Jones] has done. It has been funny stuff, nothing too serious, but he is extremely happy for me right now.”
Jones, an Austin SFA High School product, became the first prospect with Texas ties off the board in the second round. He went to the Bills with the fifth pick of the night, No. 37 overall.
It reunites him with Bills receivers coach Phil McGeoghan, Jones’ position coach last season at East Carolina.
Jones caught an FBS-record 158 passes for 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns last season, catching 158 of 164 catchable balls. His 399 career catches also set an FBS record.
“That’s a lot of balls. It is,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “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. When that ball is thrown in his area, he’s catching it. We hope that continues.”
University of Houston linebacker Tyus Bowser, whom some had projected as a first-round choice, went 47th overall to the Baltimore Ravens.
“They are getting a great player,” Bowser said. “Just a guy that is good on and off the field; a guy that is going to work hard; that is going to play hard’ a guy that is going to rush the passer and that is also going to be a huge factor on special teams. [I am] just an all-around competitor.”
Texas A&M safety Justin Evans joined several other Aggies, including Mike Evans, in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers used the 50th overall choice on Justin Evans.
“I’m just coming in with a humble mindset, working hard, learning the scheme, the playbook … but I definitely view myself as a starter,” Justin Evans said.
The Bucs signed ex-Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox in free agency. Evans will compete with holdovers Chris Conte and Keith Tandy for playing time.
The Aggies had three players drafted in the first 77 picks. Defensive end Daeshon Hall, who played at Lancaster, went to the Carolina Panthers in the third round.
“I didn’t think I would be picked this early,” Hall said. “This is just a blessing. It’s a little overwhelming.”
Also in the third round, California quarterback Davis Webb, who played at Prosper and began his career at Texas Tech, went to the Giants at No. 87 overall. He will serve as Eli Manning’s backup, with the Giants hoping he becomes the heir apparent.
“Davis Webb, big man with a chip on his shoulder,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “He’s a gym rat, coach’s son, excited to plug him into quarterback school and hit the ground running. He lost a job early in his [college] career, sitting there probably a little bit too long in this draft. ... I thought he would drafted earlier, yes.”
Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, a Texas City product, went to the Texans two picks later, at No. 89 overall. He could not have been more pleased with his new home, getting to stay home.
“I’m so close to Houston,” Foreman said. “I’m from Texas City. I’m really close to Houston and my dad has always been a Texans fan. He’s a diehard Texans fan. As the process was going on - I played for Texas City and then I went to Texas - so why not be a Texan? That was my thing, just play for the Texans from where I’m from. I really wanted to just be a Texan.”
Lamar University cornerback Brendan Langley went to the Broncos at No. 101.
“You don’t understand how much it means to me,” Langley said. “I’m so proud to be a Lamar University alum.”
On Thursday, four Texas high school products went in the first 10 picks. Arlington Martin and Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett was the No. 1 overall pick; Coppell and Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas went No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers; Hebron and LSU safety Jamal Adams went sixth to the New York Jets; and Whitehouse and Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes went 10th to the Kansas City Chiefs.
So 11 players with Texas ties were selected in the first three rounds.