Oakland RaidersDownload App

Oakland Raiders Roster Roundup: Grading All 22 Positions and the Talent at Each

Oakland RaiderContributor IIINovember 5, 2016

Oakland Raiders Roster Roundup: Grading All 22 Positions and the Talent at Each

1 of 20

    In my biggest article to date, I want to take a look at the Raiders' starting players and take a look at the current talent on the roster, how it stacks up and how long I think the position is set. Hope everyone enjoys.

    Here is how each position is ranked:

    Starter: Current Or projected starter

    Backup: Current Or projected backup

    Depth: Letter grade for depth at position

    Talent: Letter grade mostly for starting talent/some back-up consideration 

    Set For: How long I see the current starter being effective, staying starter 

    Upgrade: Can the starter be significantly upgraded? Yes or no

Quarterback

2 of 20

    Starter: Carson Palmer

    Backup: Terrelle Pryor, Rhett Bomar 

    Depth: C+

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Three-plus years

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: The Raiders made the blockbuster trade for Palmer last year. Some say they gave up too much; however, only time will tell if that's true. Palmer made big strides last season, and no doubt a full offseason with the Silver and Black will help.

    However, who is backing Palmer up worries me. Bomar is below average, and I don't think Pryor is ready yet to be the No. 2 man.

Running Back

3 of 20

    Starter: Darren McFadden

    Backup: Taiwan Jones 

    Depth: D+

    Talent: A- 

    Set For: Four-plus years  

    Upgrade: No

    Analysis: Darren McFadden over the last two seasons has become one of the best running backs in the league...when he is healthy. He can be a workhorse, and at times last year, was the Raiders' whole offense in games.

    However, with his injury problems and the departure of Bush, I am very worried about the depth at RB. Although Jones is talented, he is young and not the big bruising back the Raider need for the tough runs. I hope to see them bring in an upgrade.

Fullback

4 of 20

    Starter: Marcel Reece

    Backup: Manase Tonga  

    Depth: B

    Talent: A 

    Set For: Four-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Reece is one of the most talented fullbacks in the league, doing it all from blocking to running the ball to catching downfield. He is the real deal, and hopefully, the Raiders fullback for years to come.

Tight End

5 of 20

    Starter: Brandon Meyers

    Backup: David Ausberry, Richard Gordon  

    Depth: C-

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Not Set 

    Upgrade: Yes 

    Analysis: In the offseason, the Raiders jettisoned starting TE Kevin Boss for cap reasons, leaving Meyers, Ausberry and Gordon on the roster. The most talented is Ausberry; however, he is also the rawest player here. Meyers is average, and I can't see Gordon starting. They need to either upgrade with a free agent or let Ausberry start, with Meyers rotating in. However, I'd still like to see at least one more TE brought in.

Wide Receiver

6 of 20

    Starters: Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward Bey

    Backup: Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy

    Depth: B+

    Talent: A+ 

    Set For: Five-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: At long last, the Raiders have a good receiving corps, led by breakout rookie Denarius Moore and closely behind him, the resurging and impressive Darrius Heyward Bey. In addition, the two rotational receivers, Jacoby Ford and Lewis Murphy, are both very good as well. While someone could be brought in to replace Chaz Schilens, this is a very talented young group that will be very effective for many years.

Left Tackle

7 of 20

    Starter: Jared Veldheer

    Backup: Joseph Barksdale 

    Depth: D-

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Four-plus years

    Upgrade: No

    Analysis: Veldheer has proved himself a great starting LT in the NFL, shutting down many effective pass-rushers. The sky is the limit for this young player; however, the Raiders line is a little thin right now, and I think another backup should be brought in to shore up No. 2 at LT. 

Left Guard

8 of 20

    Starter: Cooper Carlisle

    Backup: Bruce Campbell 

    Depth: D+

    Talent: C 

    Set For: One year max 

    Upgrade: Yes 

    Analysis: The Raiders offensive line is very thin these days. Even with the free agents brought in, there still aren't that many backups for each position on the line. Carlisle is an average LG and will service the Raiders for another year with more room to impress than to let down. Hopefully, Campbell will soon be starting; however, his progression is another story, and hopefully, the Raiders can find some sort of improvement in the future.

Center

9 of 20

    Starter: Stefen Wisniewski

    Backup: Alex Parsons/Zach Hurd  

    Depth: F+

    Talent: A 

    Set For: Four-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Wisniewski is destined for greatness. Just one year into his career, he proved himself a great LG, easily in contention for top five best in the league. However, with the Raiders doing the Reggie Mckenzie shuffle of the O-Line, he will now be the center. I still have no doubt he will be great and only get better. However, I am still scratching my head at who will back him up.

Right Guard

10 of 20

    Starter: Mike Brisiel

    Backup: Bruce Campbell   

    Depth: D+

    Talent: B- 

    Set For: One to two years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Mike Brisiel, who was brought in over the offseason, was a very good addition to sure up the Raiders line. Above average, he will really help out with the new zone block scheme.

    However, another familiar problem, the Raiders seem to be devoid of backups on the line, and I'm assuming Campbell will back up both guard spots until someone else is brought in, or there is another in-house shuffle that will take place.

Right Tackle

11 of 20

    Starter: Khalif Barnes

    Backup: Joseph Barksdale    

    Depth: D+

    Talent: C 

    Set For: One year 

    Upgrade: Yes

    Analysis: In a previous article I wrote, I said I was worried that Barnes wasn't the best lineman, given his many penalties, that Oakland could have brought in. Well, it looks like barring any new additions, another year with Barnes starting at right tackle. He is average and will be serviceable, but if the penalties start adding up, it could get ugly quick. I hope Barksdale progresses and gets a chance at some reps. 

Left Defensive End

12 of 20

    Starter: Lamarr Houston

    Backup: Mason Brodine    

    Depth: C

    Talent: A- 

    Set For: Four-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Houston is an exceptional player; ever since being taken in the 2010 draft, he has worked and continued to grow, garnering praise and tackles all the same. He is a great pass-rusher, and the Raiders have LE locked down. However, another backup wouldn't hurt, even with the rotational abilities of the line (Seymour/Bryant going in at LE, vice versa).

Defensive Tackle

13 of 20

    Starters: Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly

    Backup: Desmond Bryant, Jamie Cumbie

    Depth: B-

    Talent: A+ 

    Set For: Two or three years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Seymour and Kelly are arguably the best pair of DT's in the league, with both complementing the other in the pass rush. While Seymour's career is somewhat further along, he still has a good bit of gas left in the tank. Kelly, being younger, has made immense progress since being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Raiders. And Desmond Bryant is a nightmarish rotational pass-rusher who has potential to one day start.

Right Defensive End

14 of 20

    Starter: Matt Shuaghnessy

    Backup: Davis Hall   

    Depth: C

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Three-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Shaughnessy is an above-average DE and another piece of the puzzle on an exceptional defensive line the Raiders have built. Since being drafted, he has produced fairly consistently and can provide big plays on occasion. Again, he will excel at DE and help in the line rotation. 

Left Outside Linebacker

15 of 20

    Starter: Aaron Curry

    Backup: Travis Goethel    

    Depth: D

    Talent: B- 

    Set For: One to two years 

    Upgrade: Possibly 

    Analysis: Curry has a ton of potential. Being a once praised first-round pick out of Wake Forrest, he faced the critics his first several years in Seattle, but now in Oakland, is enjoying a new chance with a new team. I see Curry becoming good in the future and no need for any quick upgrades. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Raiders need another improved backup. (Goethel is talented but extremely raw, inexperienced and returning from injury.)

Middle Linebacker

16 of 20

    Starter: Rolando Mcclain

    Backup: Travis Goethel    

    Depth: D-

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Two to four years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: McClain is a walking contradiction. One day, you see a talented, intensity-filled player, drafted from one of the best programs in the country. The next, you could see a clueless, questionably charactered and ultimately questionable first-round pick. I think Mcclain will excel at MLB, but he needs time to progress and grow.

    The MLB is the leader of the defense, and I hope to see him embrace that role and become one of the best the Raiders have seen. I have no doubt he has the talent and potential. And yet again, more backups are needed.

Right Outside Linebacker

17 of 20

    Starter: ?

    Backup: ?    

    Depth: F

    Talent: ? 

    Set For: N/A 

    Upgrade: Yes 

    Analysis: Something is always better than nothing. And at this point, the Raiders have nothing (or rather, no one) at right outside linebacker after releasing Kamerion Wimbley. Potential starters could be free agent LB Manny Lawson or EJ Henderson. Or the Raiders could look to the draft at such LB's as Chris Galippo, Vontaze Burfict or Travis Lewis. Whatever direction they go, they need to fill this spot with young or proven talent to help out the defense. 

Cornerback

18 of 20

    Starters: Ronald Bartell, Shawntae Spencer

    Backup: Pat Lee, Demarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa

    Depth: B-

    Talent: B 

    Set For: One or two years 

    Upgrade: Possibly 

    Analysis: The Raiders brought in some talented players at CB though out free agency, and I think we will see a big improvement over last year. I think they could potentially draft another CB, but I think there are ore urgent needs elsewhere, and Oakland did a good job securing some talent at a lower price.

Strong Safety

19 of 20

    Starter: Tyvon Branch

    Backup: Mike Mitchell    

    Depth: B+

    Talent: A 

    Set For: Four-plus years 

    Upgrade: No 

    Analysis: Tyvon Branch is easily the anchor of the Raiders defensive secondary. He has proven to be one of the top secondary safeties in the league and is one of the best players the Raiders have. I see him only getting better as he continues his already solid career in the NFL.

    And not to forget, waiting in the wings is underrated backup Mike Mitchell. Mitchell is, quietly, one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, and if he works on his pass coverage, can also achieve greatness while wearing Silver and Black.  

Free Safety

20 of 20

    Starter: Michael Huff

    Backup: Mike Mitchell   

    Depth: B

    Talent: B+ 

    Set For: Two to three years 

    Upgrade: Yes 

    Analysis: Huff is an OK safety with flashes of greatness. He is a good starter, and I hope to see him make more plays this year with more than just flashes of greatness. If he doesn't work out, I'm confident that Mike Mitchell could easily fill in and excel. But any switch remains to be seen. 

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices