It was starting to look like the Las Vegas Raiders might have put together a really solid wide receiver corps this season. Unfortunately, expected starter Tyrell Williams tore a labrum in his shoulder and is done for the year. While that’s certainly a blow to the offense, the Raiders might end up being just fine.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the rookies but everybody might be sleeping on some veterans the team has. The Raiders traded for former Buffalo Bills second-round pick Zay Jones last season when they really needed help at wide receiver. He didn’t really do much when he arrived despite playing a lot of snaps.
After a disappointing 2019, it didn’t look like he’d have much of a future with the team, especially after they drafted two wide receivers. However, he put in a ton of work this offseason with Derek Carr, and the coaches have noticed. According to head coach Jon Gruden, Jones has been a major standout this offseason.
“Zay Jones is probably the most improved player on the offense,” Gruden said Wednesday. “He’s really done a great job of getting himself quicker, getting himself in premier shape and faster. His stamina his something I marvel at; this guy can run all day and he’s playing with a lot more confident.”
Before Williams’ injury, it was looking like Jones could get cut before the season. After these comments from Gruden, it’s actually looking like he could have a role in the offense. Jones has talent and there was a reason he was a second-round pick. Perhaps he’ll finally be able to unlock all that talent and be an effective NFL player.
Nelson Agholor Should Also Have Expanded Role
Speaking of high draft picks who have disappointed, Nelson Agholor has gotten strong reviews from the Raiders head coach. The former Philadelphia Eagles first-rounder hasn’t been terrible but also hasn’t played up to his draft status. Gruden has known Agholor for a long time and has been talking him up.
With Williams injured, Agholor is now the most experienced wide receiver on the Raiders. Bryan Edwards could take the open starting spot but Agholor could also slip into that role. Unlike last year, the team has good depth at wide receiver. The loss of Williams hurts but it shouldn’t derail the offense like the loss of Antonio Brown did last year.
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Gruden Talks Henry Ruggs
The Raiders have some good depth at wide receiver but first-round pick Henry Ruggs should be the go-to guy from day one. Gruden leveled some high praise at the young wideout.
“[Ruggs] is a great kid who has been brought up well, got a great family,” Gruden said. “He’s just a hardworking, no-nonsense, day-to-day, consistent grinder. He’s got a big future ahead of him I think, as long as we don’t screw him up.”
Ruggs is a lot more than a speed guy and it’s clear the Raiders think very highly of him. He’s going to have a lot on his plate for a rookie but he should be up for the task.