The Raiders haven’t played a preseason game yet, but the roster is largely set. That’s due to a large number of established veterans and a young foundation hoping to combine on a special season.
There are a few roster spots to shake out during the preseason slate, which opens Friday against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. It will be interesting to see how those players fare under pressure, and how they execute lessons taught during the offseason program and 11 training-camp practices.
There’s plenty of opportunity left to make an impression. Here’s a look at where players on the 90-man roster stand heading the first exhibition game.
Locks: Derek Carr
Looking good: Matt McGloin, Connor Cook
Notes: The Raiders are expected to carry three quarterbacks after hosting just two last season. McGloin and Cook have been shaky at times and good at others. Cook has progressed well over the last week, and the fourth-round pick will be given snaps this preseason and time to develop over the year. McGloin has starter’s experience and could be valuable in a pinch. The hope, obviously, is that Carr plays every snap this season.
Locks: Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, Jamize Olawale
Looking good: Taiwan Jones
50-50: Jalen Richard
Must impress: George Atkinson III
Suspended: Marcel Reece
Notes: The Raiders have an extra roster spot to play with because Marcel Reece is suspended the first three games for a PED violation. That creates some room for Richard or a player from another position to make the squad. Washington and Olawale will carve unique roles behind Murray as a feature back. Jones should be the kickoff returner, and a special teams maven. Richard has some wiggle, and needs to be healthy and impress during the preseason for a shot at the squad.
Locks: Amari Cooper, Seth Roberts, Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes
50-50: Johnny Holton, K.J. Brent
Must impress: Joe Hansley, Nathan Palmer, Max McCaffrey, Jaydon Mickens, Marvin Hall
Notes: The top four receiving spots are well secured. Cooper and Crabtree are starters, Roberts is the third man and first option in the slot and Holmes is an experienced fourth option who’s also key on special teams. The No. 5 spot, generally inactive on game day last year, will go to an undrafted player. Holton has practiced well over two weeks of camp, and Brent has made some nice plays. They seem to be frontrunners heading into preseason games, where the young receivers will jockey for one spot.
Locks: Lee Smith, Clive Walford
50-50: Mychal Rivera, Gabe Holmes
Must impress: Ryan O’Malley, Colton Underwood
Notes: Smith is top blocking tight end, and will see significant snaps. So will Walford, assuming he can stay healthy. He’s expected to have a big year as a receiver and blocker. The Raiders preferred to carry three tight ends, but added a fourth late in 2015 to avoid letting Holmes get poached off the practice squad. They like his size and versatility, and could be TE No. 3. Rivera has experience and has had a good camp thus far. He could provide great injury protection as well. If they only choose to keep three guys, there will be a tough cut to make down the line. If they keep four, the decision is pretty easy.
Locks: Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Menelik Watson, Jon Feliciano, Austin Howard
Looking good: Matt McCants
50-50: Vadal Alexander
Must impress: Torian White, Terran Vaughn, Oni Omoile, Ross Burbank, Mitch Bell, Denver Krikland
Notes: The Raiders have four spots locked up on the offensive line, with a position battle being waged at right tackle. Either Watson or Howard will start there, and the other will be a swing tackle. Feliciano will be the sixth man, and a swing interior lineman at guard and center. McCants would provide experienced depth, especially behind Penn. Alexander gets a lift as a draft pick with an ability to play guard and tackle.
Locks: Mario Edwards Jr., Jihad Ward, Denico Autry, Justin Ellis, Dan Williams
Looking good: Stacy McGee
50-50: Leon Orr
Must impress: Drew Iddings, Darius Latham, Derrick Lott, Brenden Jackson
Notes: This is a big, versatile group able to adjust alignments. Justin Ellis and Dan Williams will generally operate as nose tackles, and, no matter who starts, both guys will contribute. Edwards Jr. and Autry were expected to start as closed defensive ends, though Ward seems poised to challenge for Autry’s spot. A rotation will be required at times there, too. McGee can be a reserve at either spot and has seen first-team work, though it’s too early to count Orr out. He played well late last year upon promotion to the 53-man roster.
Locks: Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Shilique Calhoun
Looking good: James Cowser
Must impress: Lenny Jones, Greg Townsend Jr.
Notes: Mack and Irvin are frontline players. Calhoun is the team’s third-round pick and can fill in anywhere. Cowser is an undrafted rookie with a legitimate shot to make the team. He has been Mack’s primary backup off the weakside edge, and could show well in the preseason. It’s possible the Raiders keep just four players here, especially with Mario Edwards Jr.’s ability to rush standing up in a pinch.
Locks: Ben Heeney, Malcolm Smith
Looking good: Neiron Ball
50-50: Cory James, John Lotulelei, Korey Toomer, Daren Bates
Must impress: Kyrie Wilson
Notes: Heeney and Smith should start and, the Raiders hope, play regularly throughout the year. This position group is thin on the inside. Ball is recovering from a major knee injury but the Raiders want to keep developing his talent. The other spot(s) are up for grabs will come down to defense and special teams. James is a draft pick and should stick. Bates is a solid special teams player, but so is Toomer. Lotulelei seems to have defensive priority over them.
Locks: David Amerson, Sean Smith, DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie
50-50: Dexter McDonald, Neiko Thorpe
Must impress: Kenneth Durden, Trumain Jacobs, Antonio Hamilton
Notes: Amerson and Smith will start on the outside, barring injury. Despite suggestions Hayden is fighting for a roster spot, the 2013 first-round pick has been a fixture as the first-team slot cornerback and a second-unit player on the outside. While the depth chart is far from set, he is the No. 3 cornerback right now. Carrie is a currently a fourth option, though his ability to help at punt returner and safety in a pinch makes him valuable. Thorpe was expected to be a viable option, though McDonald is pushing hard for a roster spot.
Locks: Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph
Looking good: Dewey McDonald, Nate Allen
50-50: Brynden Trawick
Must impress: Keith McGill, Chris Hackett, Jimmy Hall, Chris Edwards
Notes: The Raiders plan on starting Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph at safety. If all goes as planned, those two will rarely leave the field. They need Nelson especially to be a permanent fixture. Backups will be present, and Allen and McDonald have been second-unit options since the offseason program. McDonald has had a good camp at strong safety, though Allen has been suspect at times despite great experience. Both guys should make it, though CB TJ Carrie has versatility to fill in here. Trawick could qualify as a special teams staple. McGill was drafted in 2014, but the fourth-rounder’s roster spot seems to be in jeopardy.
Locks: P Marquette King, LS Jon Condo, K Sebastian Janikowksi
Must impress: LS Andrew East, K Giorgio Tavecchio
Notes: King has had a excellent camp and Condo is fully recovered from shoulder surgery. Janikowski had an off year, relatively speaking, but should be the Raiders kicker for a 17th straight season. Special teams coordinator Brad Seely said Tavechio is an NFL kicker, though it likely isn’t for the Raiders this season.
Looking good: 9
Must impress: 30