Raiders

Source: Raiders trade for Zay Jones, send Bills fifth-round pick

Source: Raiders trade for Zay Jones, send Bills fifth-round pick

The Raiders have a new wide receiver.

Oakland has traded a 2021 fifth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for wide receiver Zay Jones, NBC Sports California's Scott Bair has confirmed. ESPN's Chris Mortensen was the first to report the transaction.

Buffalo selected Jones with the No. 37 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Jones figures to immediately slide into a significant role in the Raiders depleted receiving corps. After departing with offseason prize Antonio Brown, Oakland has been forced to elevate Tyrell Williams into the No. 1 spot, with little in the way of proven depth behind him. Outside of Williams, rookie Hunter Renfrow is the only Raiders receiver with at least five receptions so far this season.

A four-year player at Eastern Carolina University, Jones arrived in the NFL as the NCAA Division I football career leader in receptions with 399. He's been far less productive at the pro level, having caught 90 balls for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns over 36 games with the Bills.

After defeating the Bears in London in Week 5, the Raiders will get to enjoy their bye week in Week 6.

[RELATED: Watch Gruden shock Raiders with whole week off after win]

That should provide Jones with some much-needed time to get acquainted with his new team.

DeShone Kizer earns promotion during 'valuable' year with Raiders

DeShone Kizer earns promotion during 'valuable' year with Raiders

ALAMEDA – Quarterback DeShone Kizer started every game for Cleveland his rookie season. He was Aaron Rodgers’ backup last year, cut just before this season started and joined the Raiders on a waiver claim.

He was placed down on the depth chart, in the No. 3 spot. He has been inactive every week, until this one.

Kizer will throw on a silver and black game jersey for the first time Sunday against Tennessee as Derek Carr’s backup. He wrestled the No. 2 spot from veteran Mike Glennon, who struggled in garbage-time duty two games back against the New York Jets.

The Raiders also know what they have in Glennon. Kizer’s 23 now, still trying to find himself after NFL experiences good and bad.

This isn’t a see-what-we’ve-got move. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday that all moves made right now are to win the next game, not for long-term evaluation.

Believe him on that. The Raiders can vault into an attractive position with a Sunday victory over Tennessee, with a real shot at the AFC’s final wild-card spot. Having the best available option a bad snap away from the quarterback slot is an important decision.

It’s one Kizer values as a sign that he has been making progress learning Jon Gruden’s offense without an offseason program, training camp or many practice reps. Carr takes virtually every preparation snap, with the backups left to run the scout team.

Kizer has tried to maximize each opportunity, no matter how rare they are.

“That’s what comes with being a pro. You have to perform under any environment,” Kizer said. “I have a little playing experience within my rookie year. I got to learn from some great minds last year and I’m learning from a great football mind this year. I’m trying to stay ready as much as possible and perform as much as possible in practice, and that led to this point now. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

Kizer’s an athletic sort and has been charged with mimicking agile quarterbacks the Raiders have faced. Now he has to be ready to step in and perform at a moment’s notice. It previous weeks, that wasn’t possible.

“The mindset does change,” Kizer said. “As much as I want to say this week's practice is exactly the same, it's a little different. You're a little more honed in on what we're doing."

Kizer has remained engaged despite his depth-chart status, finding ways to progress without much work. Olson said Kizer spent extra time working by himself in the quarterback room learning the offense.

“It’s me versus myself in these moments,” Kizer said. “It’s about whether you’re putting in the work and the extra preparation as if you were playing and if it comes out in practice. There are only a few reps to get, but I feel like I’ve been on top of things and helping Derek in practice. I’m watching as much film as possible and trying to rip it on the few scout team reps I get. I just hope it would translate into a game.”

[RELATED: NFL draft prospects for Raiders to watch during conference championships

Kizer essentially has been a practice-squad player in previous weeks. The Notre Dame product took the right attitude into this endeavor, especially after losing his backup gig in Green Bay for a No. 3 role.

“It has been a different year for me, but at the same time I feel like it might be one of my more valuable years,” Kizer said. “It’s rare that you get a chance to step back and evaluate the process and make proper adjustments. I was provided that unique opportunity to see where I was the last two years and where I am now and what proper changes I could make. I made those changes, and now I’m in a position where I can potentially perform on a Sunday. That’s all that matters.”

NFL Draft 2020: Prospects for Raiders to watch on Championship Weekend

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NFL Draft 2020: Prospects for Raiders to watch on Championship Weekend

As the saying goes: "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Such appears to be the case with the Raiders' 2020 NFL Draft outlook. A month ago, it looked like the Raiders might get a top-10 pick from the Bears as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continued to struggle and the losses kept piling up. 

But wins over the Giants, Lions and Cowboys later, and the Bears now sit at 7-6 -- a better mark than the Raiders -- and dreams of picking before double digits have evaporated. 

Not to worry, though. 

The Silver and Black still are projected to have two picks likely in the 14-19 range, which means they'll have their pick of some talented, potentially franchise-changing prospects, many of whom will play for their conference championships this weekend. 

As the Raiders prepare for a critical Week 14 battle with the Titans at Oakland Coliseum, let's look at some guys who could be wearing silver and black next season who are playing for conference glory this weekend. (It goes without saying the Raiders would love to have guys like Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Joe Burrow and the like, but they'll be well off the board, so they are not mentioned here). 

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Let's start here, shall we?

Derek Carr has enjoyed a fine season for the Raiders -- a career-year in some respects -- but two straight clunkers in a row and the hordes are at the gates. Head coach Jon Gruden now has two seasons to see whether or not he believes Carr is the guy to lead the franchise as it transitions to Las Vegas. If he isn't, Gruden could look to take the future leader of the Raiders in the first round. 

Enter: Oregon's Justin Herbert. 

Herbert has all the physical tools you want to see in an NFL quarterback. He's 6-foot-6 with great mobility and a rocket arm. There are times when Herbert pops and you see why NFL scouts love him. Then, there are times -- too many of them -- where his footwork is bad and his decision-making questionable.

Herbert is completing 67.5 percent of his passes this season. He's thrown for 31 touchdowns and only five interceptions, although two of them knocked the Ducks out of the College Football Playoff race. He's been hampered by the staff turnover in Eugene, Or., and the decision to go from the spread to a pistol-heavy scheme. He needs coaching, and who better to do so than Gruden?


CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

We've talked about Lamb before so let's keep this quick

He's one of the two best receivers in a loaded class. The Raiders desperately need help at wide receiver no matter who the QB is. He's got incredible hands, is great at making defenders miss and is a solid route runner. NFL scouts still would like to see how he does against more press coverage, but if he's on the board when the Raiders pick, he should be their man. 

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Here's another guy we've already dug into a bit, and a guy who more than likely will be long gone by the time Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock turn in their cards. 

Still, the Raiders are in serious need of a long-term solution at linebacker. Simmons is a linebacker/safety hybrid, who is exactly the type of player that is needed in today's wide-open NFL. He can run sideline-to-sideline to chase down running backs, he can cover tight ends (a must if the Raiders plan to catch the Chiefs atop the AFC West), is a solid tackler and can play some safety if called upon. 

Once again, he'll likely be gone, but the Raiders would love to have him. 

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Since I expect Simmons to be drafted in the top eight, let's go to another linebacker the Raiders could look at. 

Murray led the Sooners in tackles last season, and most people assumed that's because Oklahoma's defense was one of the worst in the FBS and he was just cleaning up everybody's mess. While that might have been true, Murray has shown that he's one of the top linebackers in college football this season and a key reason why the Sooners no longer are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to defense. 

He's a sideline-to-sideline backer with decent cover skills who looks to be the future in the middle of some NFL team's defense. 

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Remember two weeks ago when the Raiders were raving about what a game-changer Jets safety Jamal Adams is? Well, the next great LSU safety looks to be just as talented. 

Delpit can do it all: cover slot receivers, play the run, play the deep pass. He has great ball skills and is a sure tackler. Pairing Delpit with Johnathan Abram might be too hard to pass up. 

Bradlee Anae, Edge, Utah

The guy trying to make Herbert's life hell Friday at Levi's Stadium could be a solid Day 2 pick for the Silver and Black. 

Anae is quick off the edge and is great at using his hands, making him a solid selection. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior might not bring instant impact, but Maxx Crosby wasn't supposed to either. He's been productive at the college level, has a great motor and would be a good fit in the Raiders' edge rush rotation. 

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Trayvon Mullen is pretty, pretty good. The Raiders have a decision to make on the other side of the field. Will they bring Daryl Worley back? Or is it time to move on. 

The top cornerback in the draft might be a nice place to start. Fulton is a great cover corner with exceptional athleticism. Cornerback might not be the Raiders' top need, but a Mullen-Fulton pairing would be pretty tasty. 

[RELATED: Raiders rookies envision building dynasty]

Best of the rest

There are a number of other prospects putting in on the line in Championship Weekend who will hear their name called come April. 

Oakland, as stated, is in need of wide receivers. Keep an eye out of Clemson's Tee Higgins (we've talked about him) and LSU's Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. 

Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall will have his work cut out for him going against Higgins and Clemson's receivers. 

LSU edge K'Lavon Chaisson will be tasked with impacting the SEC Championship Game against a stout Georgia offensive line. 

The Raiders have the Titans and a playoff run on the brain, but Friday and Saturday might be a good time to lock in and watch some potential future Raiders go to work.