SEATTLE – The Raiders officially trimmed their roster to 75 on Tuesday afternoon, but a bigger wave will follow the initial swell. The first 53-man roster must get set on Saturday, though it’s bound to be tweaked some before the regular season begins Sept. 13 against Cincinnati.
We submitted a projected 53-man roster for review on Aug. 25, with some cuts that have already happened (see Richardson, Trent) and inclusions already gone (see Thompkins, Kenbrell). That came before exhibition game No. 3, an important chapter in this preseason novella.
We now have a better understanding of where players sit on the depth chart, so we’ll give it another educated crack. There’s a final exhibition Thursday evening in Seattle, but spoiler alerts come out Friday so we’ll forgo the final evaluation and predict the roster now.
[RELATED: Raiders sign LB Lorenzo Alexander]
Here’s our final Raiders projected 53-man roster. Compare it to your internal list and discuss in the comments section below.
Behind the selection: There was some shuffling at receiver between one roster projection and the next. Butler and Roberts earned spots on the team with solid practice and play. They round out a versatile receiver corps. The Raiders have options in the slot and Streater seems like the likely No. 3 wideout, but they'll maximize receiving talent with proper roles.
Offensive tackles (3)
Behind the selection: McCants will play an important role with Menelik Watson on injured reserve. He can play some guard – Khalif Barnes has also played a ton of tackle – and adds versatility to the group. Penn and Howard are starters.
Behind the selection: Webb took a stranglehold on the right guard spot. Jackson is primed for a big season. Feliciano can back up the whole interior line, and Barnes is a true swingman. Versatility allows the Raiders to run with eight offensive linemen and add numbers to other position groups.
Behind the selection: The Raiders hope Hudson plays every offensive down. Feliciano can be his backup. Tony Bergstrom was in the mix, but didn’t show enough to stick around.
Tight ends (3)
Behind the selection: This is a strong group. Rivera has had another quality camp, and can handle receiving duties while Smith focuses on blocking. Smith makes Brian Leonhardt expendable. Walford has been hurt, but big things are still expected from this young player. Undrafted rookie Gabe Holmes is certainly a practice-squad candidate.
Behind the selection: The Raiders should keep three quarterbacks. Ponder remains the backup heading into the exhibition finale despite McGloin’s preseason heroics.
Running backs (4)
Roy Helu Jr.
Behind the selection: This projected grouping hasn’t changed. Murray is the bell cow, Helu is the third-down option, Jones is the gadget player and Dyer is injury protection.
Behind the selection: Jamize Olawale was on this list before linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was signed on Wednesday afternoon. Losing Olawale is a tough call and a difficult cut because he’s a thumper, but there isn’t much use for a true fullback in the new Raiders offense. Reece will perform a variety of tasks in search of in-game mismatches. That includes the H-back spot, which tight ends can man as well.
Defensive end (5)
Mario Edwards Jr.
Behind the selection: This group has gotten harder to weed through with so many players showing quality in preseason games. Harris seems deserving, and Mayowa can be a speed rusher on the edge and a possible backup at strongside linebacker. Edwards Jr. continues to improve. Sixth-round pick Max Valles didn’t make the cut, but I bet the Raiders try to sneak him on the practice squad. He’s a raw talent that would be tough to let go.
Defensive tackles (4)
Behind the selection: The Raiders have a solid interior with Williams and Ellis. Autry can play outside in the base defense and inside in the nickel. He’s shown an ability to penetrate and knock down passes. McGee showed up in the first-unit rotation on Sunday against Arizona and was effective, sneaking him past Ricky Lumpkin at the finish. Notice that C.J. Wilson isn't on the list. He seems to have fallen behind a young pack of versatile end/tackle hybrids that has fared well in the preseason.
Outside linebackers (5)
Behind the selection: This group is deep and strong. Sio Moore has immense talent, and should be heavily involved in this defense down the line whether he starts or substitutes. Smith has been stout and Ball has shown defensive grit. He’s also going to be a core special teams player. The team signed veteran outside linebacker/special teams ace Lorenzo Alexander on Wednesday, and it’s tough to imagine him not making the original 53-man roster after being signed so late. Gary Wilkins could be a practice squad player.
Middle linebackers (2)
Behind the selection: Lofton is the man right now. Heeney could be a future starter and offers great protection at middle linebacker, a position where the Raiders have been thin in recent seasons. Heeney will step up on special teams as well.
Behind the selection: The top four guys were slam dunks and should form the young group of cornerbacks seeing the most time. McDonald has had an up-and-down camp, but he gets the edge in an extremely tight competition with undrafted rookie SaQwan Edwards that may come down to the last preseason game. One guy should make the squad, and the other could head to the practice squad. The team could still look for outside help at this spot in the coming week.
Behind the selection: The early departure of Jonathan Dowling seems to secure a spot for Ross, who played behind Dowling during training camp practices. He has a ton of experience playing safety the last two seasons. He and Asante offer strong injury protection and special teams play.
K Sebastian Janikowski
LS Jon Condo
P Marquette King
Behind the selection: These selections are obvious. No changes here.