The Raiders have to trim their roster from 80 players to 53 by 1 p.m. Saturday. With the rebuilt roster that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have put together, that means some difficult decisions are looming.
Among them, whether to opt for the veteran presence of Nicholas Morrow at linebacker or bet on the long-range potential of Javin White, the undrafted rookie from UNLV who has turned heads in camp.
In addition, has tackle Brandon Parker made the necessary improvements to hold onto a roster spot on the offensive line, or does the versatility of Denzelle Good, who can play both guard and tackle, allow the Raiders to create roster flexibility elsewhere by keeping one fewer offensive lineman?
At running back, the Raiders must decide if Lynn Bowden is ready to assume starter snaps should Josh Jacobs go down, and if he isn’t, do they keep an extra running back as a result?
Here is how we see it playing out:
Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman
■ Comment: The Raiders could opt to keep two quarterbacks, with running back Lynn Bowden serving as the emergency QB. But the training camp struggles of Mariota, coupled with the undisclosed injury that kept him out of practice for more than a week, means Peterman is a commodity the Raiders need.
Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Nelson Agholor, Zay Jones, Keelan Doss.
■ Comment: The loss of Tyrell Williams to a season-ending torn labrum opens a spot at the end of the roster, with Doss battling Marcell Ateman and Rico Gafford for the final spot. It also means that Jones, Agholor and the rookie Edwards will be used used in a rotation to make up for the loss. Edwards was the hit of training camp, but Jones and Agholor also have caught the Raiders’ eye.
Josh Jacobs, Theo Riddick, Alec Ingold, Lynn Bowden
■ Comment: In this scenario, Riddick, a late addition to camp, beats out Jalen Richard for a roster spot. Riddick brings a lot to the table, including special teams, and that gives him an edge. The Raiders need Bowden to show he can be counted on as the primary backup to Jacobs. Ingold, a traditional fullback, reported to camp in tremendous shape and could provide relief at running back if needed. Devontae Booker, who the Raiders signed in free agency, could win a job if the Raiders opt to keep four running backs, plus Ingold.
Darren Waller, Jason Witten, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
■ Comment: Jon Gruden has a fondness for multiple-tight end formations. While keeping three right ends is an option given the need to create flexibility elsewhere, the Raiders figure to stick with these four. Top to bottom, this is a solid to spectacular group.
Trent Brown, Kolton Miller, Sam Young, Brandon Parker
■ Comment: Young, a veteran free agent signing, played well enough in camp that the Raiders opted to trade veteran David Sharpe to the Washington Football Club. It also means a possible role for Parker, who has struggled at times when given an opportunity but seems to have played his way back into good graces. Should the Raiders need to create more room at another position — running back and defensive line come to mind — they could opt to lean on the tackle backgrounds of center Andre James and guard Denzelle Good in favor of Parker.
Richie Incognito, Gabe Jackson, Denzelle Good, John Simpson
■ Comment: This is an area of strength. Incognito and Jackson are one of the top tandems in the league, and Good showed last year he can be counted on as a spot starter. Simpson could be the future at one guard spot, but is likely to take a redshirt year as a rookie.
Rodney Hudson, Andre James
■ Comment: Hudson is one of the best in the NFL. James helps himself with his ability to play tackle, which creates much-needed flexibility.
Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib, Arden Key
■ Comment: Ferrell made good on his pledge to return an improved player after his rookie season and could be in line for a big leap forward. He and Crosby form a nice, young two-sided bookend to the Raiders’ defensive line. Key accepted the challenge of needing to step it up and was a bright spot in camp. He and Nassib have the potential to provide quality snaps in reserve.
Maliek Collins, Johnathan Hankins, Maurice Hurst, Daniel Ross
■ Comment: Collins could be a game-changer as a three-technique anchor in the interior of the defense,. His ability to create push upfront and free up linebackers to make plays in run defense is a welcome addition. Hankins and Hurst will wage a season-long battle for the starting job opposite Collins, with whoever gets edged out teaming with Ross to create quality depth.
Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Raekwon McMillan, Tanner Muse, Javin White
■ Comment: Right off the bat, Littleton and Kwiatkoski change the dynamic of the Raiders’ defense. That was abundantly apparent watching them fly around the practice field. McMillan adds size and power in run defense and offers a nice complement to the two new starters. The Raiders could keep veteran Nicholas Morrow, but his $3.3 million salary does not include any dead money and the Raiders might envision more bang for the buck with veteran Kyle Emanuel, who was a late addition to camp, or UNLV undrafted free agent Javin White, who impressed the Raiders. Muse has some catching up to do making the move from college safety to NFL linebacker, but the tools are there.
Johnathan Abram, Damarious Randall, Jeff Heath, Erik Harris
■ Comment: Abram is back after missing all but the season opener last year and looks completely healed from last year’s season-ending shoulder injury. Randall adds experience alongside him, although Heath and Harris received their fair share of first-team reps in camp.
Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, Lamarcus Joyner, Isaiah Johnson, Amik Robertson, Keisean Nixon
■ Comment: The Raiders gave their young secondary a big vote of confidence by releasing Prince Amukamara, thus signaling that Arnette had won a starting job and that Johnson has played well enough to show he can be counted on as the third CB. The tandem of Arnette and Mullen gives the Raiders a promising young duo for years to come. Robertson is expected to push for playing time sooner rather than later.
Kicker: Daniel Carlson; punter: AJ Cole; long snapper: Trent Sieg
■ Comment: The Raiders opted not to bring in competition for Carlson, who struggled down the stretch last season. Carlson had some ups and downs in camp, but the Raiders remain confident in him. Cole and Sieg are locked in.