Raiders’ 53-man roster projection
A much improved roster means big-time camp battles loom for the Raiders, and that means a good problem to have in setting the final 53-man roster.
The Raiders have undergone a near complete overhaul since the arrival of head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock, and it has created their most competitive roster in years. There are several brewing position battles heading into training camp, which could lead to surprising roster and starting lineup decisions.
Among the positions to keep an eye on is quarterback, where the addition of Lynn Bowden, a former college quarterback and current rookie running back, could impact how many quarterbacks the Raiders keep on the roster.
The presence of Bowden and his ability to command the playbook and master multiple roles could also squeeze newly acquired running back Devontae Booker off the roster.
The Raiders might face a difficult decision at wide receiver, where the additions of Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards could pit veterans Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor against each other for a final roster spot.
Along the offensive line, a deep and versatile group is expected to push third-year backup Brandon Parker to either step up or be in danger of losing a job. The same is the case at defensive end, where Arden Key is running out of time to make his mark, and at a slot cornerback, where veteran Lamarcus Joyner needs a big bounce-back year but could get pushed by highly regarded rookie Amik Robertson.
Here is a look at how the final 53-man roster shakes out:
Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota
■ Comment: The Raiders could opt to keep three quarterbacks again, in which case Nathan Peterman makes the team. But a competitive roster across the board leaves precious little wiggle room, and the presence of Bowden, who could play quarterback in an emergency, creates comfort in case either Carr or Mariota were injured.
Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones
■ Comment: It would not be a surprise if the Raiders kept five wide receivers rather than six, with the final spot a battle between Jones and Agholor. But both add experience and the potential for production, so each makes the team.
Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, Alec Ingold, Lynn Bowden
■ Comment: It was tempting to keep five running backs, in which case Devontae Booker makes the team, and the Raiders might well go in that direction while cutting back along the offensive line. But Bowden changes the landscape here, and with the Raiders eager to tap into his unique skill set, he and Richard are perfectly fine as the backups to Jacobs, with Ingold manning the fullback position.
Darren Waller, Jason Witten, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
■ Comment: The Raiders have some wiggle room here and could opt to keep three tight ends to open a roster spot elsewhere. On the other hand, Gruden’s fondness for multiple-tight end formations means they could buck a trend and carry four.
Trent Brown, Kolton Miller, David Sharpe, Brandon Parker
■ Comment: Brandon Parker needs to pick it up, and by no means is he a lock to make the team. If the Raiders keep an extra quarterback, running back or defensive end, Parker could be the odd man out.
Richie Incognito, Gabe Jackson, Denzelle Good, John Simpson
■ Comment: The Raiders are in good shape at guard, for the present and the future. While there was some talk about parting ways with Jackson to create salary cap relief, he seems safe for 2020. Good and Simpson could be the future here, though.
Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush
■ Comment: Kush creates flexibility with his ability to play guard and center, but he has a fight on his hands with Jordan Devey and Andre James to earn a spot.
Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib, Arden Key
■ Comment: Key has to step it up to keep his spot. Jeremiah Valoaga, a late-season pickup supplying some intrigue and upside, could push Key. It also isn’t out of the question that the Raiders keep five defensive ends. If Ferrell keeps his promise of coming back an improved player in his second year, this group has potential to be very good.
Maliek Collins, Johnathan Hankins, Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall
■ Comment: The Raiders need Hankins, Hurst and Hall to take big steps forward, and with new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli bringing the heat and expertise, that is exactly what the Raiders hope will happen. Otherwise, this is a group GM Mayock will target for upgrades next offseason.
Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Tanner Muse, Nicholas Morrow, Marquel Lee
■ Comment: A group that underwent a near complete overhaul — and rightfully so — has a chance to go from a weakness to a strength with the additions of Littleton and Kwiatkoski in free agency and the drafting of Muse, who could earn a starting job by season’s end if not sooner. Morrow or Lee will likely begin the year as the starter opposite Littleton and Kwiatkoski.
Johnathan Abram, Damarious Randall, Jeff Heath, Erik Harris
■ Comment: Abram is the big key here, as his successful return from shoulder surgery could lift this group significantly. Randall is a quality pickup, and Heath and Harris add experience and production off the bench.
Trayvon Mullen, Prince Amukamara, Damon Arnette, LaMarcus Joyner, Amik Robertson, Nevin Lawson, Isaiah Johnson
■ Comment: The Raiders feel good about what they’ve done at this position, especially with Mullen coming on toward the last half of his rookie season and the veteran Amukamara building a bridge to a collection of high-ceiling youngsters. If Arnette, Robertson and Johnson develop as hoped, the Raiders are in good shape.
Kicker: Daniel Carlson; punter: AJ Cole; long snapper: Trent Sieg
■ Comment: Carlson needs a bounce-back year, and he will get pushed in camp by undrafted free agent Dominik Eberle.
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.