Since it was reported on Monday that Las Vegas Raiders starting wide receiver Tyrell Williams’ season might be in question because of a torn labrum, the speculation about his replacements have centered around rookies.
Third-round draft pick, Bryan Edwards, was expected to make a push for Williams’ job as soon as next season. But it’s been assumed he could vie for Williams’ spot this season, especially since the South Carolina product has excelled in training camp.
There has also been talk that versatile first-round pick, Henry Ruggs III, could take on some of Williams’ role if he can’t play though the injury.
Inject Henry Ruggs getting a 20% target share while playing both Z and slot into my skull. https://t.co/CpIKJfGLOm— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) August 25, 2020
Yet, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock made it clear that the Raiders’ receiving crew is more than an injured Williams and untested rookies. When asked about the depth at the position, Mayock brought up veteran Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones.
“Could not be more proud of Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones to start with. Nelson Agholor is on a mission, and Zay Jones is, also,” Mayock said. “They’re in as good of shape as any two players we have on the team. Their route running for both of them has improved. Their concentration has been outstanding and I think our coaches have a plan for those guys.
It starts with those two guys and you say, ‘Wow.’ We can see a huge difference in Zay from last year to this year. I’m proud of the way he came to camp. Nelson Agholor, like I said, I did the Philadelphia Eagles preseason games. I had a pretty good grade on him coming out of USC. I think I know what ‘Nelly’ is and I think we’re seeing the best version of Nelly in this camp.”
Jones didn’t make much of an impact on the Raiders after he was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in an October trade. Agholor was signed in free agency. From listening to Mayock, expect the to have a chance to make an impact if Williams can play through his injury.
Meanwhile, Mayock had a tempered response about the rookie class as a whole. Players like Ruggs, Edwards and first-round pick, cornerback Damon Arnette, have been receiving getting incredible camp press.
“You have to earn it in this league, OK? We don’t have any preseason games to do it, which kind of exaggerates the evaluation process for us,” Mayock said. “So, the snapshot of the rookies has been good, but that doesn’t mean anything yet. They got to compete on special teams. They have to get off press coverage in games. There’s an awful long way to go before we anoint anyone in this rookie class.”
My interpretation is Mayock and Gruden don’t want the rookies to get too cocky before they play a game. It’s true they all must earn it.
With that said, I fully expect Ruggs and Edwards to get a chance to earn their spots during this season even with Agholor and Jones performing well in camp.