How many of you thought Las Vegas Raiders wasted a pick when they traded for wide receiver Zay Jones? After the 2019 season, it sure looked like they have put a draft selection to waste. Nevertheless, the East Carolina standout showed it was a good investment in retrospect.Â
The Raiders trade paid off one year later
Jones’ talent has never been in question. After all, the Buffalo Bills used a second round pick in the former Pirates receiver back in 2017. Although he had 83 catches in his first two years with the team, he didn’t see like a fit, so it wasn’t surprising to see them trade him to the Raiders in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
The 2019 season wasn’t a good one for the Raiders wide receiver corps and Jones wasn’t the exception. He struggled to have an impact and finished the year with 20 catches for 147 yards in 10 games. Moreover, he averaged a paltry 7.4 yards per reception, an adequate number for a running back, not a wide receiver.
The Raiders knew they needed to upgrade their wide receiver group so they selected Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards in this year’s draft. Also, they added former Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Jones was in the brink of becoming an afterthought in the Silver and Black’s offense.
Zay Jones didn’t let outside factors deter him
However, Jones quickly took to action in the offseason and partook in throwing sessions with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. The two spent the Summer working on their timing and developing a better rapport.
Some deep routes for your timeline @derekcarrqb @zayjones11 @fhmoreau #agholor #carrier pic.twitter.com/SfjtJyD4vR
— Hoku (@hokucurnan) July 7, 2020
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Although Jones has been as heavily featured as Ruggs and Edwards in the first two games in the season, he had a key reception against the Saints. He caught Carr’s second touchdown of the night, a 15-yard completion. That was Jones’ only catch of the night and the only one he’s had in the 2020 season.
In his latest press conference, Jones says that ‘it’s exciting that work is translating into actual game reps.” He then added that he considers his touchdown reception against the Saints is a routine play he and Derek Carr had made before and it just carries over from practice into the game.
Jones may not get his name called as often as Ruggs, Edwards or tight end Darren Waller. Nonetheless, he’s a key cog in the Raiders offense moving forward. They ask him to perform and he delivered when it mattered the most. That will get him more opportunities in the future.
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Top Photo: David Becker/Associated Press