Predicting the Raiders 53-man roster is no easy task. Let’s dive in.
Quarterbacks (3): Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman
Jon Gruden falls in and out love with quarterbacks the way Derek Jeter would with A-List female celebrities. His current crush is Nathan Peterman. With stringent COVID-19 protocols in place, teams are one positive test from only having one or even zero quarterbacks available to play. Too risky for the risk averse Gruden.
Running Backs/Fullback (4): Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Trey Ragas, Alec Ingold (Fullback)
Pro Bowl RB Jacobs leads the charge. Drake gives Gruden the Charlie Garner vibes. Ingold is a top-five NFL fullback. Ragas wins out over Emmons for his violent running style for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Wide Receivers (6): Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, John Brown, Willie Snead
This position group has been set for months. There are no vacancies, try again next year.
Tight Ends (3): Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
Superstar Waller appears slimmed down and faster than in years past, as if he needed anymore help. His sidekick is the offense’s secret superstar, Foster Moreau. Carrier just goes about his business quietly. Every team needs a few Derek Carriers.
Offensive Tackles (3): Kolton Miller, Alex Leatherwood, Brandon Parker
Miller is on the cusp of becoming an elite LT. Leatherwood has quickly proven he was the right pick at #17 overall. Parker is better at LT than RT and he’s cheap, so there’s value there. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Offensive Guards (4): Richie Incognito, Denzel Good, John Simpson, Lester Cotton
Incognito, when healthy, is the team’s best offensive lineman. Trouble is, he’s coming off an Achilles injury that shortened his 2020 season to only two games and he already has a calf strain. Father Time is undefeated.
Denzel Good offers great versatility and is a tough, physical blocker. He can play RT admirably in a pinch. Offensive line coach Tom Cable praises versatility. He likes his guys to be able to play on the left or right side. Hence why you saw Simpson and Cotton swap sides in between the Seahawks and Rams games.
Centers (3): Andre James, Nick Martin, Jimmy Morrissey
Martin was cheap insurance if James faltered. James was everything they had hoped and more. So much so that he didn’t even dress for the second preseason game vs. the Los Angeles Rams. The team is enamored with Morrissey. While he is a bit undersized, Cable loves his ability to play either guard position as well. Similar to the QB dilemma, two is one and one is none for this position on the Raiders 53-man roster.
Defensive Ends (5): Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Clelin Ferrell, Carl Nassib, Malcom Koonce
Really no surprises here. Crosby lost weight and rededicated himself. He’s in line for a contract extension after the season. Ngakoue has never registered less than 8 sacks in a season in six years as a professional. Ferrell has been put on notice. He still has a lot of value, he just needs to stay healthy and make more plays. Nassib’s contract prohibits him from being traded or released. Koonce will not be this years Lynn Bowden Jr., and that’s a beautiful thing.
Defensive Tackles (5): Johnathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon, Gerald McCoy, Solomon Thomas
Hank the Tank is back for his fourth season in Silver and Black. Jefferson is solid veteran who knows this scheme well after playing for Seattle for four seasons. Philon is another one of Bradley’s disciples. Thomas and McCoy hope to be 100% healthy again to provide some push up the middle. Of the bunch, keep a keen eye on Philon. He is a fire hydrant in the middle of the defense.
Linebackers (5): Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Tanner Muse, Denzel Perryman, Divine Deablo
Injuries have ravaged this unit. They’ve robbed the linebacking corps of their speed and youth. There is still really good talent here. It’s time for Littleton and Kwiatkoski to step it up. Their play needs to match their pay. Muse appears to be the real deal. Perryman provides great leadership and experience. He’s another one of Bradley’s guys from the Chargers. Health has always been an issue however. Deablo has missed a lot of time with injuries and could be a candidate for IR.
Cornerbacks (5): Trayvon Mullen Jr., Casey Hayward Jr., Nate Hobbs, Damon Arnette, Amik Robertson
Mullen looks to take the next step. Hayward is a former Pro Bowler under Bradley. He came in, took the RCB job from Arnette and never relinquished it. Hobbs is the most instinctive CB the Raiders have drafted since Nnamdi Asomugha. Arnette is fully healthy and has his strength back. A big bounce back season is critical for him.
Robertson was moved back to the outside after a failed experience in the slot. Nevin Lawson is serving a 2-game suspension to start the season. He will not count against the 53 man roster. He is a tenacious defender who isn’t afraid of contact. Gruden loves him and there’s big chance he comes back in Week 3.
Safeties (4): Tre’von Moehrig, Johnathan Abram, Karl Joseph, Tyree Gillespie
Can Abram be Bradley’s Chancellor or Derwin James? That’s one of the biggest question marks heading into the season. Second-round pick Moehrig has showed out in practices and scrimmages. Could Bradley have the second coming of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor? That’s pretty aspirational, but if you are going to dream, dream big.
Joseph is back and should see the field quite a bit as Abram moves into the box. Bradley likes to play a lot of Big Nickle and Dime defense, Joseph can no doubt fill those roles admirably. Gillespie is a fourth-round rookie who missed a lot of training camp and practices. He will make his mark on special teams primarily this season.
Special Teams (3)
Kicker: Daniel Carlson
Carlson tied for the league lead in points in 2020. He’s turned into an exceptional kicker after struggling with his accuracy in 2019. He has Pro Bowl potential.
Punter: A.J. Cole
Cole has a big leg with good hangtime on his kicks. Only 14 of his 44 punts last season were retuned and better yet, he had just 2 touchbacks all season. There’s a lot of room for improvement but the Raiders felt strong enough about his growth that they didn’t bring in any legitimate competition.
Long Snapper: Trent Sieg
It’s best if you don’t even know who your long snapper is, trust me on this.
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