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Projecting the Raiders’ 53-man roster as training camp looms

The Raiders are bringing 91 players to training camp to compete for spots on the 53-man roster.

In their second year at the helm, general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels have a roster that, on the surface, has better depth than in years past and features a larger contingent of homegrown players under contractual control for the foreseeable future.

And the roster creates a competitive environment, especially along the offensive and defensive lines and in the secondary.

As camp looms, here is our guess at what the 53-man roster will look like:

Quarterback (3)

Make the cut: Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer, Aidan O’Connell

In contention: Chase Garbers

The lowdown: The Raiders are banking on Garoppolo being cleared to play to start training camp, and that he will ultimately be a better fit for their offense compared to Derek Carr, whom the Raiders released in February. But whether it’s the foot injury Garoppolo is recovering from, or his past history of injury issues, counting on him for a full season is risky business. O’Connell, a rookie from Purdue, will start the season behind Hoyer, but the Raiders hope O’Connell eventually unseats Hoyer as the clear backup to Garoppolo and can adequately step in if needed.

Running back/fullback (5)

Make the cut: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, Brittain Brown, Jakob Johnson (FB)

In contention: Austin Walter, Brandon Bolden, Sincere McCormick

The lowdown: Keeping five running backs and a fullback, which the Raiders did last year, seems like a luxury considering they have to keep three quarterbacks as opposed to the two they kept in 2022. But the Raiders place a high value on special teams. Bolden, Abdullah and Johnson played 633 special teams snaps last year, so don’t be surprised if they figure out a way to keep them all on the roster again. Jacobs, assuming he does not hold out if he and the Raiders can’t come to terms on a long-term contract, will undoubtedly be the go-to runner again. But expect the roles of White and Brown to expand as the Raiders try to manage Jacobs’ workload — and potentially prepare for life without him.

Wide receiver (6)

Make the cut: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter, Phillip Dorsett, Tre Tucker

In contention: DJ Turner, Keelan Cole, Chris Lacy, Kristian Wilkerson

The lowdown: There has been talk about the Raiders trading Renfrow, who was set back last year by a concussion and various injuries. But that would require someone surrendering fair value in return while taking on his $6.5 million salary for 2023 and the $11.1 million he is on the books for next year. That seems unlikely, although injuries across the league could change that. Releasing him is not an option, as his entire 2023 salary is guaranteed. Either way, this is a deep group that features speed and flexibility.

Tight end (3)

Make the cut: Michael Mayer, Austin Hooper, Jesper Horsted

In contention: O.J. Howard, Cole Fotheringham, John Samuel Shenker

The lowdown: The Raiders caught a break in the draft when Mayer fell to the second round, and they promptly traded up to get him. Expect the Notre Dame rookie to eventually win the starting job. He and Hooper can be a solid tandem. The last spot will come down to who the Raiders believe can offer the best combination of blocking and pass-catching.

Offensive line (8)

Make the cut: Kolton Miller (T), Jermaine Eluemunor (T), Dylan Parham (G/C), Alex Bars (G), Andre James (C), Thayer Munford (T), Justin Herron (T), Greg Van Roten (G)

In contention: Brandon Parker (T), Hroniss Grasu (C/G), Dalton Wagner (T), Netane Muti (G), Jordan Meredith (G), Vitaliy Gurman (G), Justin Murray (T), McClendon Curtis (G)

The lowdown: The Raiders go to training camp with an open mind about who ultimately claims starting jobs, specifically at right guard and right tackle, where Bars and Eluemunor will have to fend off the competition. Herron, who is coming off a knee injury, Munford, a second-year player from Ohio State, and Parker, who missed all of last year with a pectoral injury, will be given a chance to unseat Eluemunor at right tackle. The odd men out on that competition will compete for the backup and swing tackle jobs, or, in Eluemunor’s case, the potential starting right guard spot ahead of Bars. Van Roten, another candidate to be the starting right guard, likely ends up as a key backup, although the development of Curtis, an undrafted free agent, could push Van Roten or even Bars off the roster.

Defensive line (10)

Make the cut: Maxx Crosby, Bilal Nichols, Chandler Jones, Jerry Tillery, Tyree Wilson, Jordan Willis, Neil Farrell, Byron Young, Matthew Butler, Nesta Jade Silvera

In contention: Malcolm Koonce, Adam Plant, George Tarlas, David Agoha, John Jenkins, Adam Butler

The lowdown: Keep an eye on this group, as there will be some fierce battles for roster spots. That includes Koonce, a former third-round pick who needs to take a step forward to secure his place on the roster. Of this group, six are homegrown and under contract for the foreseeable future, and five were added over the last two drafts. That is a marked difference then the yearly turnstile the Raiders have had at this position for years.

Linebacker (5)

Make the cut: Divine Deablo, Robert Spillane, Luke Masterson, Darien Butler, Amari Burney

In contention: Kana’i Mauga, Curtis Bolton, Drake Thomas

The lowdown: Much like the defensive line, this is a largely homegrown group. The Raiders are counting on Deablo and Masterson to take big steps forward in their third and second seasons, respectively. Spillane, a free agent from Pittsburgh, adds a veteran presence. Burney, a rookie from Florida, and Butler, a second-year player from Arizona State, offer youth and upside. But keep an eye on Thomas, an undrafted free agent from North Carolina State whose football savvy makes up for some physical shortcomings.

Cornerback (6)

Make the cut: Nate Hobbs, Duke Shelley, Jakorian Bennett, David Long, Brandon Facyson, Tyler Hall

In contention: Amik Robertson, Sam Webb, Ike Brown, Bryce Cosby, Azizi Hearn, Jordan Perryman

The lowdown: Along with the offensive line, this was the most difficult group to predict. And it has a chance to look considerably different by the time the season starts, since a veteran addition — Marcus Peters, perhaps — could eventually show up. Regardless, Webb and Robertson are expected to make strong cases for themselves, and that could alter the Raiders’ vision on whom they ultimately keep and how many at the position.

Safety (4)

Make the cut: Marcus Epps, Tre’von Moehrig, Chris Smith, Isaiah Pola-Mao

In contention: Roderic Teamer, Jaquan Johnson, Jaydon Grant

The lowdown: A big season awaits Moehrig, who struggled through an uneven second season last year while battling through a hip injury and making the transition to a new defense. The presence of Epps could help settle Moehrig down, and it will allow the Raiders to utilize him more strategically. Smith, a rookie from Georgia, is waiting in the wings as a heady prospect proficient in all areas. The Raiders value Pola-Mao as a playmaking weapon who can be utilized in various packages.

Specialists (3)

Make the cut: Daniel Carlson (K), AJ Cole (P), Jacob Bobenmoyer (LS)

The lowdown: The Raiders replaced longtime long-snapper Trent Sieg with Bobenmoyer, who they believe provides an upgrade. If so, his addition to the elite punting and kicking of AJ Cole and Daniel Carlson keeps this group among the best in the NFL.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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