The Las Vegas Raiders finished the preseason with a perfect 4-0 record but now comes the hard part of training camp for head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. With the NFL’s final cutdown day coming tomorrow, McDaniels and Ziegler will be burning the midnight oil piecing the final 53-man roster together.
There are bound to be a few surprises and heartbreaks as several Raiders have stood out over the past month, but only so many can stick around for September and beyond. Below is a stab at projecting who that might be, assuming an even 25 offensive and defensive players are kept along with the three specialists.
Starter: Derek Carr
Backup: Jarrett Stidham
Cut: Chase Garbers
There should be no drama here as the Raiders already made their big decision at quarterback by trading Nick Mullens last week. That cemented Stidham as the backup and Garbers was always more of a developmental prospect. He’ll likely earn a spot on the practice squad unless another team claims him off waivers.
Starters: Josh Jacobs, Jakob Johnson (FB)
Backups: Brandon Bolden, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah
Cut: Brittain Brown, Austin Walter
Another position group where the big surprise move already happened, cutting Kenyan Drake. Bolden didn’t play during the preseason but he’s McDaniels’ guy and might be the best pass blocker of the bunch. On the other hand, Brown and Walter were a couple of standouts over the last month, it’s just looking like they’ll get squeezed out of a tight meeting room. Both are also p-squad candidates.
Starters: Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow
Backups: Mack Hollins, DJ Turner and Tyron Johnson
Cut: Keelan Cole, Justin Hall (waived on Sunday), Isaiah Zuber, and Dillon Stoner
With four running backs and tight ends and a fullback, Las Vegas will likely only be keeping five wideouts to start the season. That would put Cole, the most veteran bubble buy in the group, on the outside looking in and one of our first “surprises”. Personally, I’d like to see them keep Hall around on the practice squad, but him getting let go two days before the deadline isn’t a good sign. Zuber is probably the favorite to stay with the club, seeing as he got some run as a defensive back and came down with an interception against the Patriots.
Starter: Darren Waller
Backups: Foster Moreau, Jacob Hollister and Jesper Horsted
Cut: Nick Bowers (waived on Sunday) and Cole Fotheringham
The bigger question here is when is Waller going to get back on the field, but that’s for another day. Hollister is another McDaniels guy and Horsted caught fire during the last two preseason games with five catches on five targets for 88 yards. That plus an 80.0 PFF run-blocking grade should be good enough to earn a permanent nameplate in the locker room. Bowers would be my pick for the practice team if they opt to keep one.
Starters: Kolton Miller (LT), John Simpson (LG), Andre James (C), Lester Cotton (RG), who the hell knows (RT)
Backups: Alex Leatherwood, Thayer Munford, Jermaine Eluemunor, Dylan Parham and Jackson Barton
Cut: Brandon Parker (placed on IR Sunday), Bam Olaseni, Jordan Meredith, Hroniss Grasu, Alex Bars
Parker getting shut down for the year, or at least made intelligible to play for the Raiders, likely means Leatherwood is sticking around...maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Tuesday’s offensive line looks different than Wednesday’s for the Silver and Black, as they’ll likely be dumpster diving for a tackle to try and turn one team’s trash into their treasure. In other words, even the “final” roster won’t be final.
I like Olaseni and Meredith as p-squad contenders. Olaseni has tons of physical tools and Meredith was the team’s highest-graded offensive lineman (84.0 overall) during the games that don’t count.
Starts: Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones, Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins
Backups: Clelin Ferrell, Tashawn Bower, Malcolm Koonce, Andrew Billings, Matthew Butler and Neil Farrell Jr.
Cuts: Tyler Lancaster (placed on IR Sunday), Kyle Peko, Kendall Vickers, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Zach VanValkenburg
In full disclosure, this is the first position group where I’m straying away from my guy. All signs seem to be pointing to Ferrell making the roster, but I’m having a hard time seeing what type of role he’ll have as an edge. Outside of that, Billings beat out Peko, same for Bower and VanValkenburg, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the two guys who get let go stick around on the practice squad, with Peko taking one of the veteran spots.
Starters: Denzel Perryman and Divine Deablo
Backups: Jayon Brown, Curtis Bolton and Luke Masterson
Cut: Tae Davis (placed on IR Sunday) and Darien Butler
Another position group where it depends on how many players the coaching staff wants to keep. There’s a chance they only carry four but five seems like a better number to start the season. Bolton has been a standout on special teams and Masterson just beat out Butler, though, either of them is a good candidate for the practice squad.
Starters: Nate Hobbs, Trayvon Mullen and Rock Ya-Sin
Backups: Anthony Averett and Darius Phillips
Cut: Amik Robertson, Sam Webb, Bryce Cosby and Isiah Brown
Robertson would be the surprise here seeing as reports at the beginning of camp were that he was playing well, however, he ended up allowing nine of ten targets and earned a sub-50 coverage grade during the preseason. It’s also not a good sign that he was playing well into the fourth quarter on Friday. Look for Webb to be the one who sticks around from the cut guys.
Starters: Tre’von Moherig and Johnathan Abram
Backups: Duron Harmon, Roderic Teamer and Matthias Farley
Cut: Qwynnterio Cole and Isaiah Pola-Moa
Patrick Graham loves his safeties, so I think he’ll try to keep as many around as possible. Farley had the second-highest coverage grade (71.5) among the Raiders’ safeties during the preseason and had a tackle on special teams in every contest. That plus the combination of a ton of veteran experience should be enough to land him a spot on the roster. Both Cole and Pola-Moa are practice squad candidates, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them make it.
Punter: AJ Cole
Kicker: Daniel Carlson
Long Snapper: Trent Sieg
I’ve never been more confident about predicting anything in my entire life...it helps that they’re the only ones on the roster.