Rookie with most receiving yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Zay Jones -140
Corey Davis +170
John Ross +260
The position was clearly one the Titans felt they needed to upgrade. Tennessee used two of its top three picks in the recent draft on receivers and grabbed a player who has the most upside in Davis with the fifth overall pick. Davis is just the fourth receiver taken in the first round and highest receiver ever selected by the franchise.
The Titans desperately needed a receiver who could make plays and they just didn’t have him last season. Of course, they didn’t need a game-breaker with the NFL’s third-best rushing attack, but having tight end Delanie Walker as the team leader in receptions showed just how much the offense lacked in the air.
Ross is a talented receiver but looks like more of a project for the Bengals at this point. He missed OTA’s recovering from off-season surgery and likely won’t hit the field with the team until training camp, which puts him behind everyone else. And that’s a crowded group with A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell and Josh Malone, and that’s why Ross is a longshot at +260.
Jones was the fourth receiver taken in the draft with the 37th overall pick by Buffalo, but he’s the favorite to top all rookies in receiving yards at -140. He has the chance to be an impactful player among a group of receivers that isn’t the strongest, especially considering the injury concerns of Sammy Watkins.
Jones and Davis join teams that are very good at running the football. Buffalo was the best in the league and Tennessee was the third-best. It’s hard to imagine those teams deviating from a plan that was so successful in 2016. But they didn’t waste assets so they could block on the outside, which makes us believe the aerial attack will be more of a weapon for both clubs.
Davis is a good fit in Tennessee. He gives Marcus Mariota a target with size and explosiveness that can stretch the field, something the Titans haven’t had for some time. Davis put up huge numbers at Western Michigan, leaving as the all-time FBS leader in receiving yards. Some might question the level of competition, but he’s a stud.
Jones is in a good spot with Buffalo looking to upgrade its receiving corps. Watkins is recovering from an injury and Robert Woods left for L.A. so Jones could have an immediate impact on the Bills. But Buffalo is a running team with LeSean McCoy and the effectiveness of Tyrod Taylor in the passing game has been suspect. The Bills averaged fewer than 190 yards through the air last season and Woods led the team with only 613.
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The Bengals don’t usually rely on rookies to make a big impact and Ross will be operating beside one of the best in the league in Green. That’s something Davis and Jones won’t have to worry about. And for that reason Ross won’t lead the rookie class in receiving yards this year.
Jones is in a favorable spot with the Bills, but Buffalo was the best at running the football last season and that will be a major part of their offense once again. New offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said he plans to keep many of the concepts that were successful last season, and the biggest one was the Bills ability to run the football. Besides, Taylor hasn’t been the best passer in the league and the passing game suffered because of it. Jones will have his chances, though. He’s a speed burner who can stretch the field and will get his shot at plenty of snaps.
My favorite is Davis, who joins a team looking to improve its passing game. The Titans have a franchise quarterback in Mariota and bruising run game with DeMarco Murray. But offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie wants more from the offense, which averaged just over 221 passing yards per game and was in the middle of the pack with an average of 23.8 points per game.
Davis is a much better option at the No. 1 receiver than Rishard Matthews and he has all the tools to be a great one. He put together a stellar collegiate career and led the Broncos to a 13-0 regular season and that production can continue at the next level.
NFL Prediction: Rookie with most receiving yards in 2017-18 NFL regular season: Corey Davis