With the Oakland Raiders’ final 53-man roster now announced, we can start to assess its quality heading into the 2013 regular season.
While the team has made significant upgrades in some spots, there are certain position groups that still have alarming questions that need to be answered.
We can expect the Raiders to add at least a few players that have been cut by other teams, making this roster still subject to quite a bit of change leading up to the first game of the season.
Here are the report card grades for every position on the Oakland Raiders’ roster as it now stands after final cut-downs.
The quarterback position still represents one of the biggest concerns for the Raiders heading into the 2013 season.
At this point, it still has yet to even be announced who will start the opening game in Indianapolis.
This season was supposed to be Matt Flynn’s opportunity to lead a team, but Terrelle Pryor has proven the value of what he brings to the game.
Should Pryor start, there is potential for success and plenty of big plays, but it will remain a work in progress. For now, this position group grades out as relatively weak.
RB Rashad Jennings
RB Jeremy Stewart
FB Marcel Reece
FB Jamize Olawale
Nobody has ever denied the talent that Darren McFadden has.
The problem remains his ability to stay on the field.
If he can do that, getting back to a gap-blocking scheme should see him have a big season, especially considering the reliance this offense is certain to have on the running game.
Rashad Jennings provides the Raiders with a very capable backup to McFadden, and Marcel Reece remains the most dynamic and versatile fullback in the game.
This group is arguably the most talented on the entire roster.
Another group with more questions than answers, the wide receivers are young and relatively inexperienced.
They don’t lack the necessary talent, but the Raiders badly need at least one player from this unit to step up and become a consistent target.
The players with the best opportunities to do so are Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. There should be plenty of rotation here, and the offense should go with the hot hand more often than not.
This could also be a position the Raiders choose to address through the waiver wire in the coming days.
The Raiders’ tight end position took a hit with the preseason injury to David Ausberry, but the hope is that he will be able to return soon.
With Ausberry and the two rookie tight ends in Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa, there is plenty of receiving talent, but the offensive line issues may force the Raiders to use the position as a sixth blocker more often than not.
As such, Jeron Mastrud could see plenty if not the majority of the snaps, as he provides the offense with a much more effective blocking ability.
Like the receivers group, there is plenty of young talent here but not enough experience and production.
OT Jared Veldheer
OT Khalif Barnes
OT Menelik Watson
OT Alex Barron
OG Mike Brisiel
OG Lucas Nix
C Stefen Wisniewski
C Andre Gurode
The offensive line will quite possibly be the one group more subject to change than any other in the week leading up to the regular season.
This group has struggled throughout the preseason, and players cut by other teams around the league could make for some important upgrades.
As of right now, the starting line from left to right projects as Menelik Watson, Lucas Nix, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel and Khalif Barnes.
Look for the Raiders to add another tackle and at least one more guard to the mix very soon, allowing all of whom to compete for starting spots as early as Week 1 of the regular season.
DE Lamarr Houston
DE Jason Hunter
DE Jack Crawford
DE Ryan Robinson
DT Vance Walker
DT Pat Sims
DT Christo Bilukidi
DT Stacy McGee
The defensive line is another relatively thin position on this Raiders roster, and like the offensive line, could be an area the team will look to target on the waiver wire this week.
Lamarr Houston, Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Jason Hunter make for a decent group of projected starters, but there is not much depth behind them.
That potential depth took an even bigger hit when veteran Andre Carter became one of the players released in Saturday afternoon’s final roster cut-downs.
Overall, this unit should be improved in defending the run, but still needs to find some sort of consistent pass rush. In a passing league, that remains a big issue.
Miles Burris (PUP)
Through several offseason additions, the linebacker group has become the most improved unit on the entire Raiders roster.
With projected starters of veterans Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett, as well as rookie Sio Moore, this group provides a significant upgrade both in the pass coverage and pass rush department, without losing much if anything in the run game.
Depth that has been created with these additions, now having players like Kaluka Maiava and Miles Burris as quality backups.
It was important for the Raiders to upgrade the linebacker position heading into this past offseason.
The difference should be noticeable early on.
CB D.J. Hayden
CB Tracy Porter
CB Mike Jenkins
CB Phillip Adams
CB Chimdi Chekwa
CB Taiwan Jones
S Charles Woodson
S Tyvon Branch
S Usama Young
S Brandian Ross
Similar to the Raiders’ situation at linebacker, significant upgrades had to be made in the secondary.
Through several important free agent signings, as well as the use of their first-round draft pick, they did just that.
At safety, Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch provide an impressive tandem that can make plays in both the run and pass games, as well as taking on leadership roles for the defense overall.
First-round rookie D.J. Hayden should earn a starting spot soon—if he hasn’t already—and has the necessary skill set to become a top-tier cornerback in the NFL. Pairing him with either Tracy Porter or Mike Jenkins in the starting lineup will be a big upgrade over last year’s group.
Overall, the Raiders did well to improve what was arguably their worst position group just one year ago. Having depth players like Usama Young at safety and Phillip Adams at cornerback speaks to that notion even more.
K Sebastian Janikowski
P Chris Kluwe
P Marquette King
LS Jon Condo
With Sebastian Janikowski at kicker and Jon Condo at long snapper, the Raiders have two of the best in the business.
For the first time in a long time, with Shane Lechler now a Houston Texan, the Raiders had a preseason competition at punter.
In what comes as a surprise to many, that competition may actually not be decided just yet, as the Raiders chose to keep both Marquette King and Chris Kluwe on their initial 53-man roster.
Of course, the team will not go into the season with two punters, so a choice will be made there soon.
Either way, this group should be solid overall once again.