Raiders

Raiders

The Raiders have played two exhibition games and practiced several times since the last projected 53-man roster, but little has changed.

The team entered training camp with most spots secure, and young players who came on strong early haven’t floundered in the preseason’s finale stage.

Coaches have done a good job developing young talent, with the entire 2016 draft class and three undrafted free agents set to make this team.

The Raiders have some flexibility due to unfortunate circumstances, with tight end Gabe Holmes on injured reserve and fullback Marcel Reece suspended three more games serving a PED suspension.

There’s another exhibition Thursday to evaluate, one that could sway final roster spots heading into the regular season. We won’t have the luxury of that deciding factor, but remain confident in roster decisions.

Here’s our last crack at projecting the Raiders 53-man roster:

Receivers (5)
Amari Cooper
Michael Crabtree
Seth Roberts
Andre Holmes
Johnny Holton
Behind the selection: K.J. Brent has played well this preseason and made a solid impression in Saturday’s exhibition, with three catches for 54 yards over 33 offensive snaps. The Raiders are giving him and Holton a long look down the stretch. Holton gets the nod with a longer run of solid play and ability to be dynamic with the ball in his hands.

Offensive tackles (4)
Donald Penn
Menelik Watson
Matt McCants
Austin Howard
Behind the selection: McCants has started NFL games and has experience replacing a starter in the middle of a drive. That’s invaluable down the depth chart.

 

Guards (4)
Kelechi Osemele
Gabe Jackson
Jon Feliciano
Vadal Alexander
Behind the selection: Alexander has been a solid interior run blocker this preseason, and can play tackle in a pinch. Versatility is always an asset in reserve, and his position down the depth chart gives him more time to develop. Feliciano is the first guard off the bench.

Centers (1)
Rodney Hudson
Behind the selection: Feliciano is also Hudson’s backup, though, in a perfect world, Hudson plays every snap this season.

Tight end (3)
Clive Walford
Lee Smith
Mychal Rivera
Behind the selection: The position group’s numbers are down one with Gabe Holmes on IR, but played most of last year with three tight ends. Smith is the primary blocker and Walford will do some of everything and Rivera’s available in reserve.

Quarterback (3)
Derek Carr
Matt McGloin
Connor Cook
Behind the selection: Raiders are carrying an extra quarterback over a year ago, allowing Cook to develop freely this season.

Running back (4)
Latavius Murray
DeAndre Washington
Taiwan Jones
Jalen Richard
Behind the selection: Jalen Richard backed up a lot of hype with Saturday’s preseason debut, where he showed burst, fearlessness and an ability to help in the return game. His spot seems relatively secure, especially with Reece out early. What happens when he comes back? There’s time to decide that, but Jones might be in a tight spot if Richard proves valuable despite excellent special teams coverage.

Fullback (1)
Jamize Olawale
Behind the selection: The Raiders really like Olawale, who will be more than a blocking back in this offense. He should see some short-yardage carries as well, with enough speed to extend runs if he breaks free. He’s also a strong special-teams contender. Reece is due back in Week 4.

Defensive end/tackle (5)
Mario Edwards Jr.
Jihad Ward
Denico Autry
Stacy McGee
Darius Latham
Behind the selection: Darius Latham has played his way onto the team in recent weeks, moving ahead of other contenders. Leon Orr was one, but he was waived with the first-round of cuts. The undrafted rookie fits this scheme and should be at the back end of a rotation on the interior while Edwards Jr. remains out.

Nose tackle (2)
Justin Ellis
Dan Williams
Behind the selection: The Raiders need both guys playing well to strengthen the run defense, whether they play together or rotate in for one another.

Edge rusher (4)
Khalil Mack
Bruce Irvin
James Cowser
Shilique Calhoun
Behind the selection: Cowser didn’t play a defensive snap on Saturday, with Brendan Jackson seeing significant time. The Southern Utah alum has put together a strong preseason camp and should be a reserve option off the edge and a regular on special teams. If he ends up being a numbers casualty, he’ll definitely be a practice squad candidate.

 

Interior linebacker (4)
Malcolm Smith
Ben Heeney
Cory James
Korey Toomer
Behind the selection: The Raiders like Neiron Ball a great deal. His omission from this roster projection shouldn’t reflect anything to the contrary. The team needs contributors at weakside and middle linebacker, and Ball has been hampered by injury yet again on the backside of this preseason. He didn’t play Saturday and didn’t practice in two sessions leading up to Thursday’s game. He could be ready to go for the regular season but that’s unknown right now so, we’re suggesting (not reporting) he be placed on injured reserve to make room for another player and be given more time to fully heal.

Cornerback (5)
Sean Smith
David Amerson
DJ Hayden
TJ Carrie
Dexter McDonald
Behind the selection: Second-year pro Dexter McDonald claims a roster spot over Neiko Thorpe, who didn’t play on defense against Tennessee. The fourth preseason game may be a factor, but McDonald is younger and a solid scheme fit. He gets the fifth cornerback spot. The others seem secure.

Safety (5)
Reggie Nelson
Karl Joseph
Nate Allen
Keith McGill
Brynden Trawick
Behind the selection: McGill has played his way onto the roster of late, and Trawick continues to make major contributions on special teams. He could be a leader on coverage units and provide a spark in the battle for field position.

Specialists (3)
K Sebastian Janikowski
LS Jon Condo
P Marquette King
Behind the selection: This trio rides again.