The Oakland Raiders head into their 2013 training camp with some significant roster turnover at a number of different positions.
While it is still early, breaking down some projected player roles, as well as how many players the team will likely keep at each position, allows for some realistic forecasting of who may make up the Raiders’ roster heading into the regular season.
Here is the training camp edition of the projected Oakland Raiders’ final 53-man roster.
(3) Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Wilson
All three players here are safe bets to make the final roster. Of course, Matt Flynn is the projected starter, while both Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson are young talents that each have an opportunity to become starting quarterbacks at some point in the future.
This position battle will be interesting to follow throughout camp, but Flynn should win the job.
(3) Darren McFadden, Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray
The Raiders are looking for a healthy year from Darren McFadden. If they can get that, given the switch back to a power running game, there is no reason why he should not be able to regain his dominant form from the 2010 season.
Depth beyond the starter at the running back position is extremely important, and with Rashad Jennings and Latavius Murray as McFadden’s primary backups this year, the Raiders are in good shape.
(2) Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale
Marcel Reece is easily the most dynamic fullback in the NFL. He is a capable lead blocker and makes plays both as a ball-carrier and pass-catcher.
In 2013, the Raiders’ offensive staff needs to do everything possible to get the ball in his hands more often and take advantage of the favorable matchups he creates.
Given Reece’s skill set and ability to be split out wide as a receiver or in-line as a tight end, keeping Jamize Olawale on the roster as a second fullback would be a good idea.
(6) Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner, Josh Cribbs, Conner Vernon
While there may not be any established No. 1 targets on the roster, the Raiders have plenty of wide receivers that will compete for prominent roles.
The likely starters at this point are Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, with Jacoby Ford getting snaps in the slot in three-receiver sets. Training camp competitions could change that of course, but this group could make some noise if used in the right kind of offense.
As always with the Oakland Raiders’ wide receivers, this group can fly.
(3) David Ausberry, Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera
Much like the Raiders’ receivers, the tight end group lacks a proven target, but that does not mean the potential for one to emerge is not there.
The Raiders hope that David Ausberry can finally turn into the receiving tight end they have hoped he would become all along. As such, he will likely be the early favorite to start, but there will be plenty of competition behind him.
Rookies Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera both have the potential to turn into productive players down the road, if not this season.
Kasa is the more established blocker, and Rivera the more established receiver. Ideally, they could become a productive tight end tandem together.
(8) Jared Veldheer, Khalif Barnes, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel, Menelik Watson, Alex Parsons, Tony Bergstrom, John Wetzel
Going back to the man/gap-blocking scheme will be a good fit for this relatively young but talented offensive line.
Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski are the anchors at left tackle and center, respectively, and the rest of the starting positions should be battled out in training camp.
If second-round draft pick Menelik Watson can win the starting right tackle spot, the Raiders would then be able to move Khalif Barnes to either left or right guard, making the line much stronger overall.
(5) Lamarr Houston, Andre Carter, Jack Crawford, Jason Hunter, David Bass
With a starting group of Lamarr Houston and Andre Carter, the Raiders are in good shape at defensive end.
For the defensive line to be successful overall, the depth players like Jack Crawford, Jason Hunter and David Bass will have to contribute on their rotational snaps.
Keep an eye on Bass to have a key role as a pass-rusher in nickel packages. If his dominance getting after the quarterback in college can translate to the next level, the Raiders will have themselves a seventh-round steal.
(4) Vance Walker, Pat Sims, Christo Bilukidi, Stacy McGee
After some losses in free agency, defensive tackle is still one of the thinnest groups on the Raiders roster heading into the season.
Free-agent acquisitions Vance Walker and Pat Sims should provide significant upgrades in run defense as the two starters, but the depth behind them needs to be addressed.
Look for the Raiders to bring in a defensive tackle or even two when it comes time for final roster cut-downs at the end of the preseason.
(7) Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava, Sio Moore, Miles Burris, Keenan Clayton, Kaelin Burnett
The linebacker group may be the most improved and now deepest unit on the Raiders' entire roster.
The starters should end up being any three of Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava and Sio Moore, with one of them and Miles Burris taking on the primary backup roles.
Most of these players have the versatility to play a variety of linebacker positions, and some, including Sio Moore, have significant upside as pass-rushers as well.
Expect the upgrades here to be very noticeable in both run defense and pass coverage early on.
(5) D.J. Hayden, Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins, Joselio Hanson, Phillip Adams
Cornerback, another Raiders position of need heading into the 2013 offseason, has been upgraded significantly through both the draft and free agency.
With several players having plenty to prove, the training camp competition here should be one of the most intriguing to follow leading right up to the regular season.
If healthy, D.J. Hayden should be able to earn one of the starting spots and show just why the Raiders chose to draft him as high as they did.
Tracy Porter would be the most likely candidate to win the other starting spot opposite Hayden, but any of the other players could step up in camp as well.
(4) Tyvon Branch, Charles Woodson, Usama Young, Brandian Ross
A starting group of Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson, essentially interchangeable at both strong safety and free safety, is solid on the back end. Not only will they be two of the best players on the Raiders defense, but likely its two leaders as well.
Usama Young should take on a third safety role, backing up both positions and getting on the field in sub-packages as well.
Brandian Ross makes the position change to safety from corner and should earn a roster spot as a backup and special teams player.
(3) Sebastian Janikowski, Marquette King, Jon Condo
Sebastian Janikowski and Jon Condo are locks, as both are among the best in the league at their respective positions.
Marquette King is the pick over Chris Kluwe here based on potential alone, but if he cannot be consistent in punting throughout the preseason, the Raiders could go with the veteran instead.
FB Jamize Olawale, WR Conner Vernon, OT John Wetzel, LB Keenan Clayton, LB Kaelin Burnett
The last five players to make the cut on this roster projection make it with consideration of both potential at a position of need, as well as special teams contributions.
RB Deonte Williams, WR Brice Butler, TE Richard Gordon, LB Travis Goethel, CB Taiwan Jones
While each of these five players have potential to turn into contributing players down the line, depth at their respective positions had them not making this final roster projection.