Raiders general manager Mike Mayock always has liked Zay Jones, Oakland’s newest wide receiver.
In need of help at the position because of injuries, the Raiders traded with the Buffalo Bills for Jones Monday, and the former East Carolina star – now in his third season – will get his first opportunity to play for his new team after this bye week, when the Raiders take on the Packers in Green Bay Sunday, Oct. 20.
Jones, 24, was a second-round pick of the Bills in 2017 and had a productive 2018, starting 15 games and catching 56 passes for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. But this season, with the emergence of other receivers, Jones caught just seven passes over five games and didn’t play in the Bills’ game Sunday, a win over the Titans.
So, he was expendable in Buffalo and traded to Oakland for a fifth-round draft pick in 2021.
But Mayock believes the 6-foot-2 Jones can be an NFL playmaker.
Mayock, the former NFL Network draft analyst, graded Jones as the fourth-best wideout heading into the 2017 draft, ahead of current stars JuJu Smith-Schuster of USC (with the Steelers) and Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington (Rams).
Wrote Mayock of Jones: "He’s got hands and toughness. … People thought he couldn’t run because most of his offense was underneath. I’ll tell you right now, he ran away from people at the Senior Bowl."
Now Jones, the son of former longtime Dallas Cowboys linebacker Robert Jones, will get his chance with the Raiders to get his career back on track.
Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson couldn’t play this past week because of injuries, opening the door for rookies Hunter Renfrow and Keelan Doss and receivers Dwayne Harris and Trevor Davis, better known for their return abilities than route-running.
Jones has shown he can produce when he’s on the field. Now he’ll get his chance to fulfill Mayock’s 2017 assesment.