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2016 Raiders depth chart breakdown, 53-man roster projection, position battles: Cornerback

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In the eighth installment of this series, we look at the cornerbacks and add them to those we see making the final 53.

Making our way through the defense, we head into the secondary to take a look at the cornerbacks, which aren’t quite as deep as some other positions, but has strength at the top and some good competition for the final few spots.

Starters

David Amerson – 4th year

Sean Smith – 8th year

When the Raiders started last season, neither of these two were on the roster. Amerson was claimed off waivers from Washington after week two and Smith was signed this offseason. Making the Raiders starting cornerback situation night and day better than it was this time last year, going from arguably the worst cornerback rotation in the league to one of the best.

Reserves

TJ Carrie – 3rd year

DJ Hayden – 4th year

Neiko Thorpe – 4th year

If you need proof of the upgrade in the secondary see the three reserves here who were the top three corners on the roster to begin last season. Carrie has shown he is a capable starter, while former top pick Hayden hasn’t shown much. Last year Hayden found himself tumbling down the depth chart. Thorpe comes back on a second round tender, showing how much the team values him as depth.

Position battle

TJ Carrie vs DJ Hayden

Currently these two are battling it out for the nickel cornerback spot. Whomever proves they can play the slot will win the job. That would figure to give Carrie the advantage. Even while Hayden was the nickel corner at times in his first three seasons, he never played the slot. Whenever he would come in, Carrie would move inside and Hayden would stick to the boundary. Hayden will now have an entire offseason and training camp to prove to the Raiders he can play the slot. They like his quick feet, which would suggest he can make the transition, but there’s more to it than that. If he can’t do it, he’ll once again be buried on the depth chart.

Bubble watch

Dexter McDonald – 2nd year

The team’s final draft pick last year, he appeared in six games as a rookie. With Sean Smith onboard, everyone moves down a click which means making the roster again will be more difficult.

Practice squad

SaQwan Edwards – 1st year

A standout in camp last year, the undrafted cornerback out of New Mexico spent last season on the practice squad. Another camp performance like last year will have him hanging around again and perhaps earn call up to the regular season roster at some point.

The rest

Kenneth Durden – Rookie (UDFA)

Antonio Hamiliton – Rookie (UDFA)

53-man roster projection (45/53)

Quarterbacks (3)

Derek Carr

Matt McGloin

Connor Cook

Running backs (4)

Latavius Murray

DeAndre Washington

Jamize Olawale

Taiwan Jones

Wide receivers (5)

Amari Cooper

Michael Crabtree

Seth Roberts

Andre Holmes

Joe Hansley

Tight end (3)

Clive Walford

Lee Smith

Mychal Rivera

Offensive line (8)

Donald Penn

Kelechi Osemele

Rodney Hudson

Gabe Jackson

Menelik Watson

Austin Howard

Jon Feliciano

Vadal Alexander

Defensive line (8)

Dan Williams

Mario Edwards Jr

Denico Autry

Jihad Ward

Justin Ellis

Damontre Moore

Leon Orr

Stacy McGee

Linebackers (9)

Khalil Mack

Bruce Irvin

Malcolm Smith

Ben Heeney

Neiron Ball

Shilique Calhoun

James Cowser

Daren Bates

Korey Toomer

Cornerbacks (5)

David Amerson

Sean Smith

TJ Carrie

DJ Hayden

Neiko Thorpe

Bubble watch

RB Roy Helu Jr

TE Gabe Holmes

OL Matt McCants

CB Dexter McDonald

Practice squad (9/10)

RB Jalen Richard

WR Max McCaffrey

WR Jaydon Mickens

OL Denver Kirkland

OL Oni Omoile

DT Darius Latham

DE Greg Townsend Jr

LB Cory James

CB SaQwan Edwards