53-Man Roster Prediction: Raiders Edition

Final roster cuts are right around the corner and that means it’s time to play the guessing game. Jon Gruden has a little more direction this year and a lot more talent to work with, so this is going to be as challenging as ever.

And away we go…

Quarterbacks (2)

Derek Carr, Nathan Peterman

Why keep three quarterbacks? The Raiders aren’t going anywhere without a top quarterback, so why keep two backups that aren’t very special? Everyone seems to favor Glennon, but Peterman has quietly had the better preseason… and has more upside than Glennon.

Running backs (4)

Josh Jacobs, DeAndré Washington, Jalen Richard, fullback Keith Smith

Keep sleeping on Washington. Remember when everyone used to say Washington and Richard were the same running back? That isn’t the case anymore. Washington is a much more versatile running back than Richard and he’s just as good as Richard as a pass-catcher.

Wide receivers (6)

Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Dwayne Harris, Keelan Doss, Ryan Grant

J.J. Nelson is the name missing from this group and it was a close call between Nelson and Grant. By all accounts, Nelson looked great in training camp, but given the choice between a third-string deep threat and a third-string route-runner, who do you think Gruden would favor?

Tight Ends (3)

Darren Waller, Derek Carrier, Foster Moreau

Gruden has real depth at tight end, but he can’t carry four tight ends. Luke Willson is a sleeper to make the final cut, but going chalk with Carrier is the better bet.

Offensive Line (10)

Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito (suspended), Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Jordan Devey, Denzelle Good, Brandon Parker, Gabe Jackson, Denver Kirkland

Injuries and suspensions along the offensive line should keep Gruden and Mayock from getting too cute here. There are rumors that Jackson could return a little sooner than his original timeline, so let’s plan accordingly.

Special Teams (3)

Daniel Carlson, A.J. Cole, Trent Sieg.

This wasn’t hard.

Defensive Tackles (5)

Johnathan Hankins, Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall, Ethan Westbrooks, Anthony Rush

How does Ellis not make the team? How do you keep six defensive tackles? These are the challenges ahead. Bottom line, six DTs deserve to make the team, but what kind of Gruden-led team would carry six defensive tackles?

Defensive ends (5)

Clelin Ferrell, Josh Mauro, Arden Key, Benson Mayowa, Maxx Crosby

This is one of the most clear-cut position groups on the roster. Not enough upside from anyone else in the mix to push past the five listed above. 

Linebackers (6)

Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall, Tahir Whitehead, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, Kyle Wilber

The initial thought was to dump either Marshall or Lee, but Marshall is finally getting healthy and Lee is still only 23. Kyle Wilber is a special teams ace and not a lot more, so dropping either Marshall or Lee would leave the Raiders thin at linebacker.

Cornerbacks (6)

Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, Trayvon Mullen, Nevin Lawson (suspended), Isaiah Johnson, Keisean Nixon

Six cornerbacks? Yeah, that’s a lot, but Lawson is suspended for four games, Johnson has been out with injury, and Nixon seems to be too interesting for the Raiders to risk losing. One solution would be to stash Johnson on injured reserve. In fact, that might be the most likely scenario at this point… which another reason why Nixon made the final cut here.

Safeties (5)

Johnathan Abram, Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph, Erik Harris, Curtis Riley

Is Joyner a safety that can play corner or a corner that can play safety? In Paul Guether’s mind, Joyner is probably more of a corner, but who will play safety when the Raiders aren’t in nickel?

Final count: 53.

Remember, the last couple to make the final 53 often end up getting cut when free agents become available before the season opener. So keep that in mind. Also, suspended players won’t count toward the initial 53 and trades could be coming. The Raiders might have a few trade targets at defensive tackle and wide receiver.

twitter: @raidersbeat