Originally published on SBReport.net on Aug. 30, 2012
With the first round of cuts done and the second round of cuts coming on Friday, SBReport.net takes a look at who will make it and who may get cut.
All 32 teams in the NFL are forced to cut their squads down to 53 men on Friday, meaning 22 players are set to be released by general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders.
Quarterbacks – 3
53-man roster: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor
Former Brown University quarterback Kyle Newhall-Cabellero was released as a result of the first roster cuts, leaving just three quarterbacks on the roster. There is no doubt that Palmer is the starter on this squad with Leinart acting as the backup.
Pryor proved during week three of the preseason that he has explosiveness that may be utilized by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in certain packages.
Running backs – 3
53-man roster: Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson
Cut: Lonyae Miller
McFadden is obviously the star of this team but needs to stay healthy or the Raiders will be left with a second-year player and a running back that doesn’t have much of a resume. Miller has been used heavily this preseason with injuries to Goodson and Jones, but the team will likely only keep three running backs on the roster heading into the regular season.
Fullbacks – 2
53-man roster: Marcel Reece, Owen Schmitt
With fullback Manase Tonga being released in the first wave, it leaves Reece and Schmitt as the lone fullbacks on the roster. Each fullback brings different skill sets to the team: Reece is explosive and versatile and can be a weapon in the pass game with his experience as a wide receiver at the University of Washington; Schmitt is a prototypical fullback that is a solid blocker and has shown an ability to catch short passes as well. Expect to see both of them on the field this year, depending on the situations.
Wide receivers – 6
53-man roster: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Roscoe Parrish
Cut: Eddie McGee, Travionte Sessions, Derek Carrier, Brandon Carswell
The injuries to Ford and Moore have hurt the Raiders in the kick-return department thus far in the offseason, prompting McKenzie to sign Parrish to fill that void after he was released by the San Diego Chargers. This signing is likely to push McGee on the wrong side of the cutline.
Criner and Streater have shown they can play ball, both in offseason workouts and preseason games. Criner was a fifth-round draft pick and shown he has good hands. Streater has proven to be a favorite target this preseason, hauling in 18 receptions for 165 yards in limited action during the three first preseason games.
Sessions, Carrier and Carswell have had decent offseasons, but find themselves on the outside on a team with a young, solid wide receiving corps. Heyward-Bey and Criner will hold down one wide receiver position, while Moore, Ford and Streater will hold down the other.
Tight ends – 3
53-man roster: Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry
Cut: Tory Humphrey, Kyle Efaw
The tight end situation may change in Oakland should McKenzie decide to bring in veteran tight end Chris Cooley, who was released by the Redskins on Monday. But for now, the Raiders have three young tight ends that all bring something different to the game. Myers is the starter, for now, and brings more of an all-around game to the team, while Gordon is the best blocker of the three, and Ausberry, who is a converted wide receiver, has the best pass-catching abilities.
Having the various tight end skill sets allows a lot Knapp to get creative with two-TE sets on offense. I expect the Raiders to utilize all three of the tight ends’ skill sets when necessary.
Offensive line – 9
53-man roster: Jared Veldheer, Mike Brisiel, Stefan Wisniewski, Cooper Carlisle, Khalif Barnes, Joseph Barksdale, Kevin Haslam, Tony Bergstrom, Alex Parsons
Cut: Lucas Nix, Nick Howell, Dan Knapp, Colin Miller
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp mentioned that he was pleased with the play of his offensive line so far, with the exception of center. This means that the starting offensive line will remain the same with Veldheer (LT), Carlisle (LG), Brisiel (RG) and Barnes (RT). Parsons has been the center with Wisniewski out with a calf injury he sustained in the first preseason game.
The Raiders will keep Parsons as insurance for Wiz at the center position, and Barksdale and Haslam have proven to be versatile while playing numerous positions this offseason. Bergstrom was McKenzie’s first draft pick in the third round and brings his own versatility while being an expert in the zone-blocking scheme.
Defensive tackles – 4
53-man roster: Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Christo Bilukidi, Desmond Bryant
Cut: Jamie Cumbie, Dominique Hamilton
Seymour, Kelly and Bryant were all-but solidified as the first three defensive tackles coming into the season. The team thought that big defensive tackle Travis Ivey would help fill the void as a big run-stopping defensive tackle but he was released in the early days of training camp.
Bilukidi was McKenzie’s sixth-round draft pick and has shown he can rush the pass as well as play the run, which was a worry of the coaching staff at the beginning of training camp.
Cumbie and Hamilton have shown glimpses of solid play, but not enough to warrant a spot on the roster over Bilukidi.
Defensive ends – 4
53-man roster: Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, Dave Tollefson, Jack Crawford
Cut: Hall Davis
Getting a healthy Shaughnessy will help the Raiders defense, especially when defending the run. Houston will need to get to the quarterback more, but is a solid player and has had a solid offseason and preseason. Tollefson comes over from the New York Giants and will be asked to fill much of the pass-rush void that may have been created when the Raiders parted ways with Kamerion Wimbley. Crawford is a raw football player that has great size and speed but has played little football while he grew up in England. He has shown glimpses of his ability but was sidelined with a foot injury but has since returned to the field. Like Bilukidi, McKenzie likely wouldn’t want to part ways with one of his draft picks in Crawford, leaving Davis on the outside looking in.
Linebackers – 5*
53-man roster: Rolando McClain, Philip Wheeler, Miles Burris, Travis Goethel, Carl Ihenacho, Aaron Curry*
Cut: Chad Kilgore, Kaelin Burnett, Nathan Stupar
The asterisk here is that linebacker Aaron Curry will likely begin the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Curry has been struggling with knee problems and has not practiced during training camp.
Curry’s absence likely opens up a spot for undrafted free agent Kilgore or Ihenacho, however you look at it. Kilgore has shown great hustle when on the field, while Ihenacho has shown his own pass-rushing abilities after being converted to outside linebacker from the defensive end position he played while playing at San Jose State University. Shall Curry return to the roster, Ihenacho will likely be on the losing side of the transaction.
Kilgore’s hustle has been a pleasant surprise, but McKenzie may choose to place him on the practice squad to allow him to develop more.
Stupar and Burnett have been working primarily with the third-string this offseason and have yet to show the promise that McKenzie hoped he would see.
Cornerbacks - 6
53-man roster: Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa, Pat Lee, Bryan McCann
Bartell and Spencer have shown they can be relied on as the starting cornerbacks for the Raiders. Van Dyke and Chekwa have shown glimpses of promise but need to become consistent ont he field.
McCann brings kick-return capabilities should Ford go down to injury again, or remain hurt for a lengthy time. Lee has been up and down during camp but is solid for depth at a position where the Raiders need it.
Francies was just signed this week but will likely be cut after he is used for his return capabilities during Thursday’s preseason game.
Safeties – 5
53-man roster: Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff, Mike Mitcheel, Matt Giordano, Brandon Underwood
Cut: Curtis Taylor
It should not be surprising that the Raiders are set at safety with Branch, Huff, Mitchell and Giordano. Branch and Huff are the starters and rightfully so and the Raiders have recently paid both of them like they are.
Mitchell has played solidly this preseason and shown his love for the Raiders new defensive scheme. Giordano played under head coach Dennis Allen while in New Orleans and continues to prove he’s a solid backup capable of contributing.
Underwood comes from Green Bay with McKenzie and is a cornerback converted to safety, which adds versatility to the defensive backfield.
Specialists – 3
53-man roster: Shane Lechler, Sebastian Janikowski, Jon Condo
Cut: Marquette King, Eddy Carmona
This should be no surprise here as the Raiders will move forward with their Pro Bowl trio.
I should also note that the Raiders, like all teams, are allowed to place eight players on their practice squad. To be eligible for the practice squad, players must meet one of the following requirements: