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May is too early for a Raiders’ 53-man roster projection, but here you go

Discussion in 'American Football' started by SDRay, May 17, 2018.

  1. SDRay

    SDRay RIP SD Chargers..F the LA Chargers, Go Irish Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

    Jun 20, 2005

    It’s May 17. Yup, time for a Raiders 53-man roster projection.

    Obviously, there is no need to wait for next week’s organized workouts, next month’s mandatory minicamp or head to Napa for training camp in July. Fast forward through all the tedious preseason games as well.

    Wait, what, that doesn’t make sense, you say.

    OK, we will give you that this might be a crazy exercise, doing this in May, but like the wise Seal once sang, “We’re never gonna survive, unless … We get a little crazy.”

    And besides, this gives Raiders fans something to yell about (gotta keep their games sharp in the offseason) as well as give them a peek at which positions the club is deep at, which spots they’re not, and which players might be on the bubble heading into the rest of Jon Gruden’s offseason program.

    The Raiders will likely add a player or two in the next three months, and there will be an injury or two, but here (drum roll) is the mid-May 53-man roster projection:

    Quarterbacks (3): Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook

    Gruden is very excited about Carr, and, last year’s regression aside, there is a lot to be excited about: Carr is smart, has a very good arm and has underrated mobility.

    We have had very little access to the workouts so far, so I can’t say for sure why the Raiders cut Josh Johnson so fast. He must not have been the same quarterback Gruden remembered from Tampa Bay. Or they just got him to do that cool schedule-release video with his cousin, Marshawn Lynch.

    I thought Cook looked sharper than last season in the brief window that I saw him in; I still don’t think he beats out Manuel for the No. 2 job, but Gruden liked Cook coming out of Michigan State and maybe something clicks this summer.

    Running backs (5): Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, Chris Warren, FB Keith Smith

    Lynch is already in good shape and ready to build off last season. He can still pack a wallop. Martin didn’t sign for much, but Gruden thinks the little dynamo will be a quite a bargain, coming off the scrap heap into a role backing up Lynch. You could even see them on the field at the same time. You will definitely see Lynch running behind fullback Smith, a former San Jose State linebacker who should become a fan favorite with some punishing blocks.

    The one name missing above is DeAndre Washington, and that’s because he and Richard are the same size at 5-foot-8 and do a lot of the same things. That used to drive former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave nuts. The Raiders have added a bigger back in 6-foot-2, 247-pound Chris Warren, a rookie out of Texas who made the team after a recent tryout. I haven’t seen him run live or talked to any of the coaches about him yet, but there he is on my early 53.

    Receivers (5): Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Ryan Switzer, Johnny Holton

    I still think the Raiders will find a taker for Seth Roberts, as they have already paid him half of his money owed and another team may find in training camp that they need an experienced receiver who has made some big plays and is an excellent blocker. If not, Roberts could very well beat out Holton, even though Holton is more of a deep threat and better on special teams.

    Tight ends (3): Jared Cook, Derek Carrier, Lee Smith

    Carrier replaces Clive Walford from last year’s corps, and Carrier is a better blocker who shouldn’t be counted out as a pass catcher. He started off his NFL career as a walk-on receiver in Oakland and has worked hard to carve out a different niche. Gruden’s brother, Jay, coached Carrier in Washington and raved to his brother about him.

    Offensive lineman (9): Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Brandon Parker, Kolton Miller, Breno Giacomini, Jon Feliciano, Denver Kirkland

    (Note: Vadal Alexander is suspended for the first four games and doesn’t count against the roster during that period)

    The Raiders won’t say this, but their ideal scenario is that first-round pick Miller fits in quickly and earns the left tackle starting job. Then the money-strapped team can cut Penn and save $5 million off the cap. But that’s a lot to ask of Miller, who didn’t dominate at left tackle at UCLA last season. Penn, 35, is working hard rehabbing from his foot injury and has played his best football with a chip on his shoulder. That’s why my early bet is on him.

    The odd-man out then would likely be second-year tackle David Sharpe, if he can’t beat out Giacomini for a backup spot. Giacomini happens to be line coach Tom Cable’s guy from Seattle. All of this is assuming rookie Brandon Parker is starting at right tackle — if you draft a right tackle in the third round and he can’t start right away, that’s a bad pick in my opinion.

    The last three names up top, including Giacomini’s, should be in pencil — as opposed to the permanent ink the rest of these projections are — not only until Alexander (maybe) comes back, but undrafted rookie Alex Officer looks to me like a real sleeper. The center played three positions at Pitt and has the advantage of coming in with a new staff that doesn’t have any attachment to the returning backups.

    Defensive line (10): Khalil Mack, Justin Ellis. Maurice Hurst, Bruce Irvin, Mario Edwards Jr., P.J. Hall, Eddie Vanderdoes, Arden Key, Tank Carradine, Treyvon Hester

    Irvin is at a new spot and the former linebacker won’t be used in coverage as much and won’t have to play almost every snap, which should improve his productivity and finally get him to the 10-sack plateau he has been dreaming of.

    If Hurst really doesn’t have any question marks about his heart condition (this year, at least), he should start right away. He is a first-round talent with an explosive first step inside. With a motivated Edwards in his contract year, Vanderdoes coming off a knee injury and raw pass rusher Key, the Raiders could actually have a nice little rotation up front.

    Linebackers (6): Tahir Whitehead, Derrick Johnson, Emmanuel Lamur, Nicholas Morrow, Marquel Lee, Victor Azeem

    The Raiders need Johnson to be a young 35, or else they have to add another linebacker at training camp. Whitehead can play any of the three spots, and the Raiders think the former Lion can run around and be a playmaker for them. Lamur, who has been primarily a special teams player, knows defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system from Cincinnati and very well could be a starter. Undrafted free agent Jason Cabinda out of Penn State should really thank his agent for finding him a good spot: If he can’t make it here, he can’t make it anywhere.

    Cornerbacks (5): Gareon Conley, Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Leon Hall, Nick Nelson

    We are assuming Worley can stay out of trouble and the rookie Nelson makes it back from his knee injury. Gruden spoke highly of veteran signee Shareece Wright recently, but the numbers don’t seem to be in his favor, especially given safety Marcus Gilchrist’s ability to play slot corner. Senquez Golson also is an intriguing player, and the potential for some knockdown competition at this spot is exciting. And we didn’t even mention returning backups Dexter McDonald and Antonio Hamilton. Surely, they would like to continue their NFL lifestyles.

    Safeties (4): Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson, Marcus Gilchrist, Obi Melifonwu

    We left off special teams ace Erik Harris and last year’s preseason standout, Shalom Luani. Luani looked lost when he got a chance to play in the regular season last year, but that may be on the fired staff. He can definitely deliver a blow and seems to have a nose for the ball.

    The new staff doesn’t really know what to make of the undersized Joseph, who has not been the playmaker that a first-round pick should be, or the oft-injured Melifonwu. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out — and I still think they add a safety that can jam the box before the season starts.

    Specialists (3): K Eddy Pineiro, P Johnny Townsend, LS Andrew DePaola

    I think when you give an undrafted kicker like Pineiro a signing bonus, and draft his holder from college, that’s a really bad sign for the incumbent. Plus, Giorgio Tavecchio is left-footed and punter/holder Townsend has never held for lefties.
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  2. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    they needed to do more at RB

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