The Raiders don’t make final cuts until Aug. 31. They have 10 days and two preseason games to evaluate talent and construct a roster they believe gives them the best chance to win.
That won’t stop us from taking our best guess right now. Finding 53 wasn’t easy. This took considerable thought, homework and some difficult decisions. Risky picks were made, some you may not like. That’s okay.
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When it comes down to it, this is for fun. We’ll give it another go on Aug. 30, just before coach Dennis Allen must trim this roster all the way down. Let us know whom you think should be added/subtracted, but please to include a corresponding move.
Here’s the first projected 53-man roster. Have at it:
Wide receivers (6) – Denarius Moore, Brice Butler, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Greg Jenkins
Note: Jenkins makes it as a kick returner over Josh Cribbs. He has speed, youth and health on his side. Criner better heal fast. Losing his grip on a roster spot.
Offensive tackles (4) – Jared Veldheer, Alex Barron, Khalif Barnes, Menelik Watson
Note: Raiders will sign someone else once after final cut if they, formally place Veldheer on injured reserve – designated to return list as expected. Odds are that’ll be a player not currently on this roster.
Guards (3) – Tony Bergstrom, Lucas Nix, Mike Brisiel
Note: Brisiel better show up when he gets healthy.
Centers (2) – Stefen Wisniewski, Andre Gurode
Note: Gurode can be a swing guard or center.
Tight ends (3) – Jeron Mastrud, David Ausberry, Mychal Rivera
Note: Mastrud’s blocking eliminates Gordon. Rivera is a stretch, but offers a strong receiving option.
Quarterbacks (3) – Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Wilson
Note: Wilson gets the nod with draft status.
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Running backs (3) – Darren McFadden (shown, above right), Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray
Note: This is assuming Murray can rehab from arthroscopic ankle surgery quickly. If not, he’s practice squad bound.
Fullbacks (2) – Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale
Note: A pair of solid contributors. Reece is always a mismatch. Olawale is a bruiser, solid special teamer.
Defensive ends (5) – Lamarr Houston, Andre Carter, Jason Hunter, Jack Crawford, David Bass
Note: Going with Bass over Ryan Robinson in a close call. Raiders will try and sneak Robinson onto the practice squad. Better hope it works.
Defensive tackles (4) – Vance Walker, Pat Sims, Christo Bilukidi, DT Stacy McGee
Note: Tough choice between McGee and Kurt Taufa’asau.
Outside linebackers (4) – Kevin Burnett, Sio Moore, Kaluka Maiava, Kaelin Burnett
Note: Assuming Maiava can get healthy. If not, Raiders will have to look elsewhere. Can’t survive with three OLBs.
Middle linebackers (2) – Nick Roach, Omar Gaither
Note: Easy picks here. Gaither has looked good, brings veteran experience while Raiders wait (maybe in vain) for Miles Burris.
Cornerbacks (6) – Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins, D.J. Hayden, Joselio Hanson, Phillip Adams, Taiwan Jones
Note: Without Cribbs, Adams is the punt returner. Hanson will be on the hot seat if Hayden deserves a starting spot and Porter slides into the slot. Jones makes it for special teams.
Safeties (3) – Charles Woodson (shown, right), Tyvon Branch, Usama Young
Note: Young’s versatility allows Raiders to go with three safeties.
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Specialists (3) – K Sebastian Janikowski, LS Jon Condo, P Marquette King
Note: Raiders go with King’s potential over Chris Kluwe’s experience.
NOTE: LB Miles Burris will start on the PUP list.
In line photos provided by The Associated Press