The Raiders latest acquisition of Zay Jones shouldn’t get overlooked. Yes, he didn’t catch over 70 yards this season, but he was a second round in 2017. Jones never lived up to that potential in Buffalo, but he can in Oakland.
More importantly, the recent trade shows the Raiders are ready to compete this season. Oakland could’ve accepted a big win over the Bears and entered Week Six with the status quo. Instead, they realized they couldn’t run Josh Jacobs into the ground. Thus, they added a high upside outside receiver for a fifth pick.
Who are the 2019 Raiders?
Are we the team who decisively handled Denver, Indianapolis and Chicago early? Or are we the team dominated by Minnesota and Kansas City?
The reality is, this team probably falls somewhere in between. That’s okay though. It’s enough to have the Raiders tied in one of the two Wild Card slots with the Colts. Yes, the same Colts Oakland handled not to long ago.
After that, the AFC’s 2-3 teams include the Chargers, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Cleveland. Much like the Raiders, those teams can go either way with their own share of successes and internal inconsistencies. That’s why its so crucial the Raiders took a chance on adding a playmaker like Jones.
Will Jones be the player that gets them over the hump?
It’s rare a player who only caught over 600 receiving yards once will be the player that gets a team over the hump.The Raiders also have needs for some depth at linebacker and pass rusher.
Regardless, the Raiders weren’t going to get anywhere with Keelan Doss and Trevor Davis starting outside. No disrespect but those guys are complimentary players. The Silver and Black weren’t gonna make it another week forcing the ball to Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs. They needed to add another piece on the outside before they got exposed.
Not to mention, JJ Nelson, Dwayne Harris and Tyrell Williams are all nursing injuries. Oakland needed to add a veteran into that group for depth and talent. Last week, I said the Raiders should look into adding Michael Crabtree for this very reason.
Jones offers similar size and skillset as Crabtree. He’s a possession receiver with seven receiving touchdowns last year. Jones is a solid blocker in the run game too. His ability to get separation and concentration are inconsistent in the pro, but he did set the NCAA record for career catches with 399 in college.
This 24-year-old’s potential is welcomed on an offense barren of starting caliber receivers. Jones ran 4.45 second 40-yard dash at the 2017 combine but lead in the broad jump and shuttle drills for his position. Oakland also has enough speed at the position to help open up Jones underneath. He comes from an NFL pedigree including his older brother, father and uncle.
What’s the catch with Jones?
Oakland only gave up a fifth round pick for Jones. The issue with Jones is his 46 percent catch rate. Granted, he hasn’t had the best quarterback play, but he has the length and range to have that be much better.
Besides sometimes questionable hands and separation, Jones is infamous for a viral video where he was naked and fighting his brother. That appears to be a red-flag, but he has been quiet off-field since.
Still, the Raiders had the brass to pull the trigger on a move that might make them better. This is the latest instance of a Gruden regime proving their not afraid to be bold with roster transactions.
The Bigger Picture
It seems simple. See a need, trade for a player. However, Raiders fans know it isn’t that simple. With this Front Office it appears much simpler after this trade for Jones as well as when the Raiders traded for Trevor Davis when their returners were out. Oakland showed this same behavior shipping out franchise players as well as gambling on Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown. They’re open for business if it makes them better.
Jones appears to be the latest part of this strategy. Sure, he isn’t Stefon Diggs, A.J. Green or Julio Jones but Zay is better than what the Raiders had at the position. Let’s also not pretend the Raiders were willing to give up premium draft capital for another superstar receiver.
Nonetheless, at least the Raiders had the willingness to try and get better strategically. Love or hate the Jones trade, it is proof the Raiders aren’t going to settle with just being above .500 and in the playoff game. Their willing to make trades that help them win now. That’s more the previous regimes in Oakland who always stayed pat on the trade block.
Maybe now the Raiders will apply this same aggressive strategy on the trade block to fill needs at linebacker and edge rusher? Either way, the Zay trade proves the Raiders are willing to make fair moves to compete this year.