Zay Jones was a second-round pick back in 2017, but has never quite put a full season together that illustrates his full talent.
He was the Bills leading receiver in 2018, 56 receptions for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. But Jones fell out of favor in Buffalo the next year, catching only seven passes for 69 yards in five games before the Raiders acquired him in October in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
Jones has been a part of the Raiders’ rotation at receiver, but hasn’t made too much of an on-field impact. He’s caught 34 passes for 301 yards with one touchdown over the last two seasons.
Nevertheless, Jones elected to re-sign with Las Vegas in March. And it sounds like a big part of the decision was being able to continue playing under head coach Jon Gruden.
“It’s a lot of fun [being coached by Gruden],” Jones said in an interview for the team’s in-house TV show. “I’ve said this to many people I’ve talked to, Gruden has kind of reignited that fire and that love, for me, with football again. Football’s something that early on in my career, felt like a job a little bit. But Gruden has brought that passion that’s just like, ‘I enjoy playing this game again. I enjoy being out here.’
“And he brings so much history of the game. He’s someone that can tie in Jerry Rice to Randy Moss to Fred Biletnikoff to someone more modern-day. And he just puts it all in this melting pot of film and it’s just fun. It’s creative. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s laughter, it’s jokes, but you can also get yelled at at the same time. So it’s a mixture of both.”
Jones has his work cut out for him to get more playing time in a receivers rotation that includes newcomers like John Brown and Willie Snead, plus Hunter Renfrow and 2020 draft picks Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. But with a pair of seasons experience in the offense, he could have a leg up in trying to help the club replace Nelson Agholor’s production from last year.