Predicting the Oakland Raiders' 53-Man Roster

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystAugust 30, 2012

Predicting the Oakland Raiders' 53-Man Roster

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    "The coach wants to see you and bring your playbook."

    The dreaded words that no player wants to hear. The low-level equipment guy who's given that task of retrieving the players from the locker room and escorting them—with their playbook—to the grim reaper's office. 

    On Friday, this will happen 22 times at Oakland Raiders headquarters in Alameda, California. Eight of those players will be told that the team wants to bring them back on the practice squad. 

    Although we will find out soon enough which players will stick around for the new era of Raiders football, it never hurts to take a stab at predicting the players general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen will decide to keep. 

    So who makes the cut?

    Christopher Hansen is the AFC West lead writer for Bleacher Report. Be sure to on Twitter and the AFC West blog on Facebook. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.

Quarterbacks (3)

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    In: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor

    Out: n/a


    The Raiders released Kyle Newhall-Caballero in the first round of cuts, leaving the team with three quarterbacks. Palmer is the starter and Leinart will be the backup, but a special package of plays could be installed for Pryor to utilize his athletic abilities. 

    Palmer has a full offseason under his belt in one system, and the Raiders added the serviceable backup they didn't have last year. 

    Pryor is still a project, but he's a project with some short-term upside as a running quarterback who can challenge a defense in certain situations. 

Running Backs (3)

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    In: Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson

    Out: Lonyae Miller


    It's possible the Raiders could look for a new No. 3 running back who was cut by another team, but it sounds like the team will roll with Goodson. 

    Unlike last season when the team had Michael Bush, if McFadden were to go down, the Raiders would use a combination of Goodson, Jones and their fullbacks.

Fullbacks (2)

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    In: Marcel Reece, Owen Schmitt

    Out: n/a


    The Raiders will deploy two different fullbacks in 2012. Reece is more of a threat in the deep passing game, while Schmitt is a blocker and will be used more traditionally as a receiver in the short passing game. 

    Reece is a very unique fullback, and the Raiders will have plays designed to take advantage of the mismatches he creates against linebackers.

Tight Ends (3)

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    In: Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry

    Out: Tory Humphrey, Kyle Efaw


    The Raiders don't have a clear-cut No. 1 option at tight end. Myers, Ausberry and Gordon will share time at the position.

    If the Raiders brought in a tight end like Jeremy Shockey or Chris Cooley, they would have to release one of Gordon or Ausberry. That's likely not something they would want to do.

    Unless there is an injury, expect the Raiders to rotate the three tight ends and play certain players against certain teams in certain situations.

Wide Receivers (6)

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    In: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Roscoe Parrish (PR)

    Out: Eddie McGee, Travionte Session, Brandon Carswell, Derek Carrier


    It's worth noting that McGee, Session, Carswell and Carrier all have practice-squad eligibility, and the Raiders could stash one or two there. I'd expect the Raiders would at least attempt to put McGee and Session on the practice squad.

    McGee was a good candidate to make the team prior to the signing of Parrish off waivers from the Chargers. The Raiders are in need of a punt returner, and Parrish can also help in the slot if needed.

    Otherwise, the Raiders have Heyward-Bey and Criner at one receiver position, and Moore, Ford and Streater at the other. Wide receiver is one of the stronger position groups on the team, even though it is not real top-heavy. 

Offensive Linemen (9)

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    In: Stefen Wisniewski, Alex Parsons, Cooper Carlisle, Jared Veldheer, Tony Bergstrom, Mike Brisiel, Khalif Barnes, Joseph Barksdale, Kevin Haslem

    Out: Lucas Nix (Practice Squad), Nick Howell, Dan Knapp, Colin Miller


    Bergstrom, Barksdale and Haslem are all versatile linemen who can back up almost any position on the offensive line. With Wisniewski ailing, the Raiders shouldn't take the risk on keeping just eight offensive linemen.

    Barksdale is far from a roster lock and could be a surprise cut, but considering the other options, the Raiders should hold onto him while they scan the waiver wire.

    Parsons was making a strong case to make the team and has become a near lock with Wisniewski sidelined with an injured calf.

Defense Tackles (4)

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    In: Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Desmond Bryant, Christo Bilukidi

    Out: Jamie Cumbie, Dominique Hamilton


    Cumbie had one good preseason game, but otherwise has been pretty quiet. Cumbie is also still eligible for the practice squad and could find himself on the active roster by the end of the season through attrition. 

    Bilukidi was one of McKenzie's draft choices, so he'll probably be reluctant to let him go or put him at risk of signing with another team by trying to stash him on the practice squad.

    Seymour, Kelly and Bryant are a good rotation, but can they stop the run? 

Defensive Ends (4)

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    In: Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, Jack Crawford, Dave Tollefson

    Out: Hall Davis


    There's not much surprise here. Tollefson will be heavily involved in the new defensive scheme, and Houston and Shaughnessy are the starters.

    Crawford had a pretty solid training camp until being sidelined with an injured foot, but he's returned to action and Davis hasn't done enough to steal the job. Davis is also eligible for the practice squad.

Linebackers (6)

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    In: Rolando McClain, Philip Wheeler, Miles Burris, Chad Kilgore, Carl Ihenacho, Travis Goethel

    Out: Kaelin Burnett, Nathan Stupar

    PUP: Aaron Curry


    With Aaron Curry likely headed for the regular-season PUP list, Chad Kilgore is likely to stick on the roster—at least initially. I expect Kilgore to be replaced once McKenzie goes shopping in the pool of nearly 400 players who will be released on Friday.

    Stupar ran with the No. 3 defense for all of training camp, and Kaelin Burnett never developed into the pass-rusher the Raiders hoped he would. Both are candidates for the practice squad.

Safeties (5)

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    In: Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell, Michael Huff, Matt Giordano, Brandon Underwood

    Out: Curtis Taylor


    Branch, Huff and Giordano are all part of the nickel package. Huff has been playing cornerback in the nickel package like he did last year, so the Raiders can afford to keep another safety.

    That safety is Underwood. He's an ex-cornerback, so he's versatile and also plays special teams. The alternative is keeping an extra cornerback or linebacker, which doesn't seem to make sense given the Raiders are shopping for them on the waiver wire.

Cornerbacks (5)

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    In: Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Pat Lee, Chimdi Chekwa

    Out: Bryan McCann, Coye Francies


    It really wouldn't be that surprising to see Lee or Chekwa released. Lee is good on special teams and he's been a solid reserve cornerback, but he's hardly the type of player to be totally safe. Lee missed practice the other day with what seemed like a minor injury, and rarely do players take days off who don't have some assurances that they will make the roster.

    Chekwa hasn't been horrible and is still young, but he's teetering on the edge of the roster and would be a prime candidate to lose his spot to an addition like Francies or another cornerback who becomes available. 

    The signing of Parrish signals the end of the line for McCann, who was basically a return specialist. 

Specialists (3)

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    In: Sebastian Janikowski (K), Shane Lechler (P), Jon Condo (LS)

    Out: Eddy Carmona (K), Marquette King (P)


    Both Janikowski and Lechler have had preseason injuries, and Carmona and King could be on speed dial. Unless Janikowski or Lechler can't go, don't expect the Raiders to do anything abnormal like keeping a punter on the practice squad.

Practice Squad

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    Jamie Cumbie, DT

    Dominique Hamilton, DL

    Lucas Nix, G

    Kaelin Burnett, LB

    Nathan Stupar, LB

    Travionte Session, WR

    Eddie McGee, WR

    Hall Davis, DE


    Also Eligible

    Brandon Carswell, WR

    Conroy Black, CB

    Lonyae Miller, RB

    Kyle Efaw, TE

    Derek Carrier, WR

    Dan Knapp, OL

    Marquette King, P

    Eddy Carmona, K

    Colin Miller, C

    Nick Howell, OL