Breaking Down the 53
The Oakland Raiders opened a lot of eyes with their cuts yesterday, and I’ll do my best to make sense of the madness.
For starters, here is the list of the final roster breakdown:
Quarterbacks: Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor (doesn’t count against the roster – yet)
Running backs: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Taiwan Jones, Michael Bennett and Rock Cartwright.
Fullback: Marcel Reece
Wide receivers: Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Derek Hagan, Jacoby Ford and Nick Miller
Tight ends: Kevin Boss, Brandon Myers, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon
Offensive linemen: Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle, Khalif Barnes, Bruce Campbell, Stephon Heyer, Joseph Barksdale and Seth Wand.
Defensive linemen: Matt Shaughnessy, Lamaar Houston, Trevor Scott, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant, John Henderson and Jarvis Moss
Linebackers: Kamerion Wimbley, Rolando McClain, Quentin Groves, Darryl Blackstock and Bruce Davis II
Safeties: Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell, Jerome Boyd and Chimdi Chekwa
Cornerbacks: Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Joe Porter
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski
Punter: Shane Lechler
Long-snapper: Jon Condo
*Quarterbacks – The Raiders opted to only keep two quarterbacks, cutting Trent Edwards. Am I the only one having flashbacks to Denver 2 years ago when J.P Losman got a snap at QB? Better start glancing at that playbook Shane.
*Runningbacks – Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Taiwan Jones were all locks, but it is a bit surprising to see the Raiders keep both Rock Cartwright and Michael Bennett. Rock has been a core special teamer and team leader, while Bennett has been a reliable veteran presence in the backfield. With the youth and strength of both McFadden and Bush, along with the emerging Jones, you would think a player like Bennett would be expendable when the Raiders have other need areas.
*Fullback – Marcel Reece must be feeling lonely again this year. Some wanted to keep a blocker, such as Manase Tonga, but Reece will be fine on his own again this year.
*Wide Receivers – Similar to the Runningbacks, the Raiders opted to keep an extra player rather than cut one. Derek Hagan rightfully stuck, but keeping previous camp standout Nick Miller came as a small surprise. Miller has received a lot of playing time in the Raiders preseason games, and has looked solid, not spectacular. Controversial WR Chaz Schilens also made the team, meaning that his knee injury is not overly serious. This looks to be the Raider’s strongest WR corp in years.
*Tight Ends – Both rookies David Ausberry and Richard Gordon made the team, which is surprising when considering 3rd year player Brandon Myers did too. Look for one of these guys to be the odd man out once Terrelle Pryor counts against the roster.
*Offensive Lineman – The only surprise cut is LG Daniel Loper, whom the Raiders considered worth a wealthy backup’s salary just eight months ago.
*Defensive Lineman – The Raiders decide to keep the same defensive line as last year. The question with them is not if the right players were kept, but if this line can carry the defense on its back.
*Linebackers – Only two backup linebackers were kept, and special team captain Sam Williams was cut after his 8 year tenure with the Raiders. The Raiders already looked thin at LB in the preseason, and cannot afford to have any of their starters hurt. Expect to see Trevor Scott getting some playing time back at LB again this year.
*Safeties – Jerome Boyd is kept over Stevie Brown, and Chimdi Chekwa makes the team as a fourth round draft pick converted to Safety. It looks like Chekwa is going to be expected to become Mike Huff’s backup as single deep safety, while Boyd backs up Branch for now. When Huff slides over in the Nickel, who takes over now at FS? While Hue insists his safeties are interchangeable, I’ll be crossing my fingers for Huff’s good health.
*Cornerbacks – Considered to be the weakest position on the team, the Raiders elected to keep only four cornerbacks. It’s noteworthy that the Raiders kept more safeties than corners, despite cornerbacks being involved in more packages. Cornerback Joe Porter made the team over previous draft picks Walter McFadden, Jeremy Ware, and camp standout Sterling Moore. He must have shown something the Raider staff can see that we can’t.
*Special Teams – Seabass, Lechler, and Condo make up arguably the best kicker/punter/snapper battery in the NFL.
Some things to note:
– All eight players selected by the Raiders in the 2011 NFL draft were kept. That marks the second year in a row that all draft picks have made the team.
– That said, while last years draft picks all made the team last year marking a “deep” draft, Raider 5th round pick Walter McFadden, and 7th round picks Jeremy Ware and Stevie Brown were both cut this year.
– Veteran CB Lito Sheppard was cut after appearing in only three practices and one preseason game. Apparently he did not show enough to warrant a roster spot. Was worth a try.
Fact is, the Raiders decided to keep more players at their positions of strength (RB, WR) and less players at their positions of need (LB, CB). Hue gave the theoretical finger to “needs” and kept his best players – regardless of position.