53-Man Roster Projection: Oakland Raiders

It’s way too early for a 53-man roster projection.

Who cares? Let’s do it anyway.

Quarterback – Derek Carr, Mike Glennon

@KrisWysong – Derek Carr (not Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock) is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Raiders in 2019. His backup? That remains to be seen. Remember, last season’s training camp featured a battle between Connor Cook and EJ Manuel. After an impressive preseason finale, Manuel seemed to have the QB2 job in the bag, but head coach Jon Gruden went in a different direction and traded a fifth-round pick for AJ McCarron. So, while you never really know what “Chucky” is up to, I’m going to assume Mike Glennon will beat out Nathan Peterman. Glennon has the experience advantage (22 NFL starts) and has shown he can take care of the football, something that Peterman has very much struggled to do.

Running Back – Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, Doug Martin

@StillRyanFive – Analyzing the Raiders’ 2019 backfield is a pretty straightforward task. The concept around this piece, initially, was to comment on perhaps a “surprise standout” player this season, or maybe even a “surprise cut” this offseason. I don’t think we have a candidate for either in this group, again, just given how cut-and-dry things are. To me, anyway. The “unofficial” depth chart currently reads as follows, per Ourlads: RB1 Josh Jacobs (rookie), RB2 Jalen Richard, RB3 DeAndre Washington, RB4 Doug Martin, RB5 Chris Warren III.

Jacobs has the draft capital (24th overall) and falls into a perfect scenario in a post-Marshawn Lynch world in Oakland. He is going to get a ton of run early, despite being such a polarizing prospect coming out of school. Jacobs received plenty of high marks from big media, and there was a lot of pre-draft buzz regarding Gruden’s evaluation of the former Alabama runner – an opinion he was clearly very adamant about (and one that a few other front offices across the league may have shared). He should be a three-down factor for the Raiders, and a player that should excel in later downs through the air.

Richard is a borderline satellite back-plus that was a PFF favorite last year given the high efficiency marks. Unfortunately for Richard, Jacobs arrival should immediately eat into Richard’s contributions in the passing game. Richard has drawn the Charlie Garner comparison in the past, and while you can never count on much of anything from NFL coaching staffs, one should see the early-investment in Jacobs and be able to connect the dots as it relates to Richard’s role going forward.

Martin was last relevant and impactful during the 2015 campaign when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another Gruden favorite and reclamation project which, to the surprise of very few, has fizzled out. I foresee a depth and leadership role for the former First-Team All-Pro in 2019, but with Jacobs’ arrival, we can officially move on from the “Martin era” in Oakland.

I figured Washington would be a cut last season, so it wouldn’t surprise if he were gone by the end of this offseason. Washington isn’t a bad player per se, but one that’s been outplayed by Richard in Oakland. Washington’s been a redundant element and I don’t foresee him taking up a roster spot much longer.

Warren inexplicably won the hearts of Raiders Twitter during a preseason contest or two. He’s had a rough run with injuries and now has reportedly checked in around 250 pounds. At the end of the day, he’s just-a-guy, a likely practice squad fixture (if that) come September.

Fullback – Keith Smith

@KrisWysong – There wasn’t a lot that Keith Smith did in 2018 that impressed me. He had a couple of opportunities to make a play for his team in crucial situations (the 4th down drop in Denver comes to mind), but he wasn’t able to get it done. That said, I believe Rich Bisaccia has a few players on this roster that he’ll fight hard for and I believe Smith is one of them. Although he did reportedly suffer an injury that will cause him to miss a chunk of training camp, I still think Smith is going to be kept over Alec Ingold (the undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin), as long as his recovery goes as expected.

Due to the fact that fullbacks are not as coveted league-wide as they used to be, I think there’s a decent shot that Gruden gets to stash Ingold on the practice squad for a year. Or maybe he has an “injury”, Chris Warren-style, and heads to IR…

Wide Receiver – Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, Hunter Renfrow, Dwayne Harris (Return Specialist), Keelan Doss

@KrisWysong – The Raiders are boomin’ at the wide receiver position with the acquisition of Antonio Brown. On top of that, they added a vertical threat in Tyrell Williams and some nifty, shifty route runners in Ryan Grant and Hunter Renfrow. They also re-signed Dwayne Harris, the return specialist, who should (once again) have an important role on special teams… and will likely continue to lead the league in Gucci swag.

The sixth spot is going to be really interesting. J.J. Nelson is a burner who can take the top off of a defense, Marcell Ateman flashed a bit last year as a possession receiver, and Keon Hatcher has been knocking on the door. But — call it a hot take if you must — I’m riding with Keelan Doss to take that final spot. It won’t be easy, but I think he’s got the size and ball skills to impress in Napa and make enough plays under the lights in the preseason to give himself a chance.

Doss attended Alameda High School and then went to UC Davis, and we all know that Gruden has a soft spot for local products, so that should work in his favor. He also chose the Raiders over several other teams as a priority undrafted free agent, which means he’s clearly all in on the silver and black.

Tight End – Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Paul Butler, Derek Carrier

@KrisWysong – It may not be the sexiest position battle, but you could argue that it has the most intense competition. Darren Waller seems to be the easy pick as the starting “F” tight end, as Gruden has openly talked about his athleticism and untapped potential in the pass game. Foster Moreau was drafted in the fourth round back in April, so they clearly liked his in-line blocking ability at LSU and believe they can develop his raw ability as a receiver. Paul Butler saw starter reps in OTAs, which made it seem like he was taking over Lee Smith’s old starting role (for now). Butler also bulked up quite a bit…

Sammy Spina ️️ on Twitter

For each day that you take off, your competitor is two days ahead of you.” Never stop working. This man is an inspiration. @_Paul_Butler_ @Raiders #PB81 https://t.co/ssyxLtaBIW

Lastly, does Gruden really go with these three young players and trust that the position is solidifed? Even though his salary is the highest of the bunch, which could arguably be a determining factor in him being let go, I decided to keep Derek Carrier. He does have value on special teams, he made some clutch catches against the Steelers back in December and I think keeping one veteran around is the right move.

Offensive Tackle – Trent Brown, Kolton Miller, Brandon Parker, David Sharpe

@KrisWysong – Trent Brown got paid the big bucks and is slated to start at right tackle, while Kolton Miller will start at left tackle and look to bounce back from an injury-riddled rookie campaign.

Although Justin Murray, Denver Kirkland and David Sharpe could make a push, I believe Brandon Parker will be given every opportunity to earn the swing tackle spot. After all, anything short of being the top reserve at the tackle position would be a disappointment for the 2018 third-round pick as he heads into his second season as a pro. Beyond that, I think Sharpe is the best of what’s left, so he should stay.

Interior Offensive Line – Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Richie Incognito, Denzelle Good, Jordan Devey

@KrisWysong – Rodney Hudson is the best center in the NFL and Gabe Jackson has played some really good football in Oakland since he was drafted, so those two put the Raiders in a nice position on the interior. Richie Incognito, who will be serving a suspension the first two weeks of the regular season, seems to be the favorite to start at left guard.

For the last two spots, I kept Denzelle Good and Jordan Devey. As much as I am cheering for Lester Cotton, Sr. to turn some heads and make this team, I’m not sure I see him leapfrogging any of the players I kept at this time. Jonathan Cooper was recently added to the mix as well, so his starting experience and versatility could give him a role on this team if he can stay healthy.

Defensive End – Clelin Ferrell, Benson Mayowa, Arden Key, Maxx Crosby, Quinton Bell

@ChrisReed_NFL – After being the 4th overall pick in this years draft, Clelin Ferrell is etched in as a starting EDGE. Benson Mayowa would be the obvious choice to start opposite him in base defense, but he doesn’t provide the same firepower as far as pass rushing. Arden Key and Maxx Crosby could be utilized as situational pass rushers, but both will have a chance to prove they can handle the full time job of starting at EDGE opposite Ferrell. If they don’t show that they’re ready or capable, it’s likely that the player to start in that role is currently on another team.

There was a bit of temptation to go with Josh Mauro over Quinton Bell because of his 220-pound size, but the threat of Bell not making it onto the practice squad because he was snatched up by another team made me think twice. Pass rush potential is coveted in the NFL and I’m not sure Mauro moves the needle, so I decided to keep Bell.

Defensive Tackle – Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall, Johnathan Hankins, Justin Ellis

@ChrisReed_NFL – This is going to be a straight forward position to cut down. Hankins had a strong 2018 campaign, putting him in a comfortable position to start at 1-tech. Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall are heading into year two with high expectations, as they should occupy the primary rotation at EVEN front 3-tech or ODD front 5-Tech. Justin Ellis should provide nice depth at 1-tech (which is one of the most under appreciated positions in football), which leads me to believe he’s kept and utilized throughout the season. In my mind, the only real question will come down to how well Eddie Vanderdoes has recovered. He was a force to be reckoned with in his first professional game, but since then has struggled to stay healthy. Can he bring the juice that he flashed as a rookie? Not only will he need to beat out Gabe Wright and Ronald Ollie to have a chance at securing a roster spot, he’ll also likely need to take a spot away from another position group to justify it (he’d be the tenth defensive linemen, Raiders could easily keep just nine).

Linebacker – Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall, Tahir Whitehead, Jason Cabinda, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow

@ChrisReed_NFL – Here’s how I view the starters; MIKE: Vontaze Burfict, SAM: Brandon Marshall, WILL: Tahir Whitehead. In terms of depth and role players in sub-packages, I think defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will find ways to work both Jason Cabinda and Nicholas Morrow into the game plan. Morrow, in particular, has great range and would and could excel in pass coverage if he’s consistently given the opportunity.

The most difficult cut was Kyle Wilber, who has value on Bisaccia’s special teams units. I also really like undrafted free agent Te’Von Coney, who would be an ideal practice squad candidate, but if he impresses on film in August it may lead to him landing elsewhere.

Cornerback – Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, Trayvon Mullen, Nevin Lawson, Isaiah Johnson

@KrisWysong – Although there’s still a ton to prove, I think this cornerback group is the most talented that has suited up in Oakland in many years. That has a lot to do with Gareon Conley, who has “star” written all over him.

Kris Wysong on Twitter

Gareon Conley, CB1. Let’s talk about it. #RaidersBeatBreakdown @RaidersBeat https://t.co/19VUBiKSm5

On top of that, the CB2 battle between Daryl Worley, Trayvon Mullen and Nevin Lawson could be one of the premier storylines highlighted on HBO’s Hard Knocks.

As far as making the roster, I believe it’s going to come down to 2018 fourth-round pick Nick Nelson versus 2019 fourth-round pick Isaiah Johnson. There is a scenario where Oakland could part with a veteran like Lawson if he doesn’t earn the starting role over Worley, which would hypothetically give them the flexibility to keep both Nelson and Johnson. However, I didn’t go that route, and I took Johnson over Nelson. The deciding factor was ceiling, as Johnson’s raw physical tools could turn him into something special.

Safety – Lamarcus Joyner, Johnathan Abram, Karl Joseph, Erik Harris, Jordan Richards

@KrisWysong – The safety position got a major boost in talent this offseason, with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner via free agency and Jonathan Abram in the first round of the draft. With Joyner likely seeing a lot of snaps in the slot as the nickel cornerback, Abram and Karl Joseph should be penciled in as the starters on the back end. Erik Harris and Jordan Richards are a couple of gems in terms of depth, leadership, intelligence and work ethic.

It’s going to be really difficult for Curtis Riley and Dallin Leavitt to make the team, but I certainly hope they make a strong push. Iron sharpens iron.

Special Teams – Andrew DePaola, Daniel Carlson, Johnny Townsend


(Featured Photo: Raiders.com)


3 thoughts on “53-Man Roster Projection: Oakland Raiders

  1. Move Chris Warren to full back. He’s bigger and better than Keith Smith. And we could actually give him the ball.

  2. IMO if healthy C. Warren stays as he is a huge back to offset the smurfs. Don’t think we keep 4 TE’s. With Good down for 2 months, Incognito on suspended list for 2 games maybe Cooper makes it temporarily. Q. Bell PS with Mauro making team & getting cut mid season when other teams start sniffing Bell. Love that you kept Cabinda many have him gone. Still think N. Nelson gets 1 more shot b4 getting cut although which 4th rd pick do you keep. I. Johnson probably gets stashed on PS or makes the team on STs while J. Richards gets cut. Do you need 5 safeties?

    Great write up. Well thought out!

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