Yesterday, NFL teams were required to make their final cuts to being rosters down to 53 players for the regular season. For many teams such as the Oakland Raiders, the final cuts are a lot of tough choices.
The 53 man roster as of the final cuts yesterday stands as follows (Rookies are italicized):
Quarterbacks: Matt Schaub, Derek Carr, and Matt McGloin
Cut: Trent Edwards
The team already dumped camp arm Trent Edwards. Matt Schaub is still being called the starter, even though Derek Carr is putting a lot more fire under his feet. McGloin is the trusty no. 3 that the team trusts.
Running Backs: Maurice Jones Drew, Darren McFadden, Latavius Murray, Marcel Reece (FB), Jamize Olawale (FB)
Cut: Jeremy Stewart, George Atkinson, Karl Williams (FB.)
IR: Kory Sheets
Murray, Jones-Drew, and McFadden were the obvious locks to make the roster, and Oakland knew they had a good enough runner in Reece to take over in case all three of them go down.
Jones-Drew will slot in as the starter, with McFadden operating as a change of pace option, with Murray occasionally getting carries and working on special teams. Reece is their best offensive weapon and should see more touches this season. Olawale brings excellent special teams value.
Atkinson was still a bit raw as a running back and his special teams abilities weren’t enough to make the 53. Stewart was the surprise since he is on all four special teams units and is average. Sheets is on IR after tearing his Achilles vs the Packers. He could eventually be relleased with an injury settlement.
Cut: Juron Criner, Greg Little, Mike Davis, Rashaan Vaugn, Seth Roberts.
IR: Greg Jenkins
Moore went from trade rumors to making plays and made the roster. He won’t be counted on to start this year, but his speed kills whenever he is used. The Team seems to be interested in using him as a returner based on the preseason, so he is safe. Jones and Streater are the undisputed top guys, and Holmes is a mystery since he shined early in the offseason, but then fell off hard halfway through the preseason. Butler used his late game heroics in the preseason to secure a roster spot and will slot in as a special teamer.
Despite his size, Criner couldn’t make a big enough impact to stay in Oakland, though the team could bring him back to the practice squad. Little caught everything in padless practices, but sputtered on the game field. Davis was a name player from Texas with Speed, but couldn’t show enough to make the roster. Jenkins was a special teamer who hurt himself in practice and will likely be released soon with an injury settlement. Vaughn and Roberts were camp bodies.
Tight End: Mychal Rivera, David Ausberry, Brian Leonhardt
Cut: Jake Murphy, Scott Simonson, Kyle Auffray
IR: Nick Kasa
Possibly the most muddled position group. David Ausberry, the 2011 7th round pick, is still out after a knee surgery cleanup, and no one is sure when he is expected to return. Rivera is taking up all the first team reps in his place and will start and build on his promising rookie year.
Rivera isn’t a world beater at tight end, but he is a sure handed possession receiver that the Raiders love to move around. Leonhardt is a capable blocker who will be the in-line replacement for Nick Kasa, who is out for the year with a torn ACL. The rest were camp bodies and the team will likely be scouring the waiver wire looking for tight end talent. Orson Charles and Marqueis Gray are two intriguing options.
Cut: Jack Cornell, Dan Kistler, Erle Ladson, Lamar Mady, Jarrod Shaw, Emmett Cleary, Lucas Nix
The starting five will be (L-R): Donald Penn, Khalif Barnes, Stefan Wisniewski, Austin Howard, Menelik Watson.
Jackson, a third round pick from this spring, is nipping at Barnes’s heels at left guard. It won’t be long before Jackson overtakes him. Boothe is a capable interior swingman who can play anywhere. McCants is the only true depth at tackle, although if Watson can’t shake his injury history, either Barnes, or Howard will be kicked out to tackle.
None of the cuts were surprising. Most were camp bodies. Mady played 95 snaps last year, but a deep depth pushed him out. Nix was destroyed last year, and a knee scope he couldn’t recover from made him expendable.
Defensive Line: Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Pat Sims, Stacy McGee, Antonio Smith, Justin Ellis, Shelby Harris, CJ Wilson, Benson Mayowa
Cut: Ryan Robinson, Ricky Lumpkin, Torell Troup, Denico Autry.
The starting line will be Tuck and Woodley at the ends, with Sims and Smith inside. The Raiders are keeping all they can get with the defensive line this year. Harris showed well despite being a 7th rounder. Ellis will be brought along as a run stuffer.
The big surprise was Wilson. No one is still sure if he will be used at all. He is a defensive tackle playing end, and kicks inside in nickel. He will likely be a gameday inactive. Robinson was the only notable cut since he made the team last year as an undrafted pass rusher. Mayowa was claimed today is a flashy pass rusher.
Cut: Justin Cole, Bojay Filimoeatu, Carlos Fields, Spencer Hadley, Kaelin Burnett
Roach and Mack are the clear starters. If Sio Moore is recovered from his neck injury, he is the top runner for the weakside job. Burris will likely pitch in on special teams and be the top backup at all spots.
Maiava is an odd pick, but his special teams ability and veteran skills help him beat out the younger players. Burnett is a special teams stalwart, but was cut to make room for Mayowa.
There is room to build depth, but its overall, one of the best position groups on the team
Cut: Chance Casey, Jansen Watson.
PUP: DJ Hayden.
With Hayden out on the PUP list for the first six weeks, it allowed Neiko Thorpe to get more playing time in the preseason and make a stamp for a roster spot. Thorpe played extremely well vs the Packers, even earning first team reps. Rogers and Brown are the top two, with impressive 7th round rookie TJ Carrie in behind them.
Chekwa also could get meaningful snaps, but will likely continue to stay on special teams. McGill is more of a project at this point, but he played extremely well in the preseason so the team wants to keep him around and develop him. Jones is a special teams ace that the team just signed to an extension. If and when Hayden comes back, Reggie McKenzie will have a difficult choice to make about who to cut.
Cut: Brandian Ross
IR: Larry Asante
Branch, Woodson, and Young were locks to make the roster. Branch is extremely underrated in every aspect, while Woodson still plays at a high level despite age creeping up on him. Young is a valuable backup and special teams player.
After getting torched as a starter last year, Ross definitely wasn’t going to play at all on defense, but it appears the 7th round rookie Dowling beat him out even on special teams. Asante was doing very well, but got injured and will likely be released later with a settlement.
Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski, Marquette King, Jon Condo
Cut: Giorgio Tavecchio
These three were in no danger. The numerous kickers brought in were just to give SeaBass a break.
This team is pretty set at all spots, though they have already started scouring the waiver wire by picking up DE Benson Mayowa from Seattle. This puts the roster at 54, so someone here will be released soon.