“As the World Turns” seems to be the theme for the Raiders’ offseason so far. If anyone is actually surprised about that after Jon Gruden took over the reigns, hold on tight and enjoy the ride because it’s not over.
As of May 4, the team hit their 90 men max roster size, so more cuts are coming. For now, though, let’s pare down the roster and make an educated guess at some of the starters on offense.
No question on the starter here, so who’s the backup? Currently, there are two QBs on that list, and in typical backup QB form, they’re not exciting but that’s not their job. Their job is to be the most popular guy on the team. If your QB goes down, we all hope that the next guy up is Nick Foles. Unfortunately, he usually leans closer to Nathan Peterman.
Since Foles doesn’t exist in the backups on the roster as it stands, the next best thing that Gruden will take is Connor Cook. Gruden loves QBs and Cook is a good development prospect behind the great Derek Carr. Carr is the apple of Gruden’s eye and has been for quite some time, and he likes DC in the leader role. What better way to do that than have him take Cook under his wing now that they have a coach who can adequately supervise and guide them. When Gruden can get his hands on some QB clay, he’s a happy man.
Let’s start with the easy answers. The three men that are all but guaranteed their spots are not in dispute. Center Rodney Hudson and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson have shown that they’re the men to beat. And that’s really unlikely. The youngsters on the field will learn everything they need to from these three stalwart vets.
Question marks are at the tackle positions. Currently, Donald Penn is the only returning starter. The Raiders drafted Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker, as well as signing Breno Giacomini. Clear moves that show how important Carr is to Gruden, as he should be. Reaching or not, the tackle position was slated to be the biggest battle on the field, and that prophecy has been fulfilled.
Other than those noted above, there are nine offensive linemen on the roster. NINE. Realistically, every single one of them can be cut, save for depth. At right tackle, Vadal Alexander has all but sealed his fate and will be cut before training camp in July. Unless something drastic happens, the safe bet is Kolton Miller starting on the right next to Gabe Jackson.
So…left tackle. Donald Penn. Penn held out in last year’s camp for more money and has a nagging ankle injury at 35 years old. He recently had a pseudo-brush with the law after an altercation with his estranged wife. The Raiders are trying to cut the cap hit as much as they can right now because they have a very important contract to write. So this will be an unpopular opinion until it actually happens, but Penn won’t be one of the team’s final 53. David Sharpe is still on the team, and he’ll battle for the last remaining lineman spot with Brandon Parker and one other option, which has yet to reveal itself. A reasonable guess is Jon Feliciano, but Gruden likes the size that his new acquisitions offer, so don’t be surprised to see Jylan Ware fighting for a spot.
Don’t expect that line to stay in the same order either. Tom Cable wants to make his mark, so shuffling the talent may be a move he thinks is worth exploring.