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The Raiders have to drop their roster to 75 players by Tuesday. We’re going straight to 53.
We’ll give this roster projection two shots, once Monday morning and again Friday, after the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks. We’ll see how these versions match up to the real roster, which will must be set by Saturday.
This was an easier projection to make than a year ago thanks to a higher level of talent and more obvious choices. As you’ll notice there isn’t an undrafted free agent making the squad.
You surely have an opinion on this list. Feel free to express it in the comments section below, but include a corresponding move with the player you’d like to add.
Without further adieu, our 53-man roster projection, Version 1.0:
Behind the selection: Brice Butler has been too strong to get cut. He ends Juron Criner’s time as a Raider.
Offensive tackles (3)
Behind the selection: The Raiders only need three tackles, with Howard and Barnes able to swing outside.
Behind the selection: This versatile group can handle significant responsibility. Should be a strength of this team. Also, Tony Bergstrom, general manager Reggie McKenzie’s first draft pick, doesn’t make the list.
Behind the selection: If Wisniewski plays every snap, the Raiders will be happy. Boothe can back him up.
Tight end (3)
Behind the selection: The Raiders are thin, and certainly would like a fourth tight end on the roster. There isn’t one worthy of a selection on the roster right now.
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Behind the selection: As strong a set of backups as there is anywhere.
Running backs (3)
Behind the selection: Reece allows them to keep three running backs. Kory Sheets would’ve had a spot if he was healthy. Jeremy Stewart was an extremely tough cut.
Behind the selection: The Raiders love Olawale. I think he frees up Reece some and is a stout special teams player.
Defensive end (5)
Behind the selection: Crawford is certainly on the bubble, but he can help in a position group with little depth. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders agree, especially with Khalil Mack able to switch to the line.
Defensive tackles (4)
Behind the selection: This is a talented group, especially against the run. These four were all no brainers. Smith can add a dimension to the pass rush.
Outside linebacker (5)
Behind the selection: Burnett makes it for special teams work, but the linebacker rotation on defense will be four deep. The Raiders appreciate Maiava’s versatility. That will be helpful on the strong side and in the middle.
Middle linebacker (1)
Behind the selection: Roach played every defensive snap last season. The team hopes he does so again.
Behind the selection: This assumes that DJ Hayden starts the year on PUP, which is not a given yet. Jones will be a special teamer. I’m sure the Raiders would love to stash McGill on the practice squad, but that would prompt a stressful trip through the waiver wire. I say they keep him.
Behind the selection: Ross played a huge role in 2013, but I bet the Raiders go with Dowling’s potential. Young has been hurt, but I find it hard to get rid of his experience.
K Sebastian Janikowski
LS Jon Condo
P Marquette King
Behind the selection: These picks are obvious. No explanation needed.