The Oakland Raiders expect to see a big year from quarterback Derek Carr and weapons have been added to help him meet that expectation. Carr deserves a stable that will stand up and work for him, and there are several of those guys on the roster now. Here are the final roster weapons, when all is said and done.
Running Backs (5)
The easy pick on this list is Marshawn Lynch. Beyond him, there are no guarantees. Gruden will keep more running backs on the field than you’d like to bet, including a fullback. Keith Smith is the only true fullback that will remain on the roster, so don’t expect to see him go anywhere. And brace yourself: Doug Martin is staying in Oakland. Gruden likes him as a secondary back and a lead blocker in a double-back set.
Now the rest of the field. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are two men who had promising rookie years. Richard, after being picked up as an undrafted rookie free agent, looked like a promising back in addition to his return skills. Last year, however, Washington had a better year than Richard. Both of them are very similar and don’t bring all of the qualities that the new-look Raiders desire in their running backs. However, they both bring a strong work ethic and flashes of brilliance, as well as the uncanny ability to break out of a scrum even at only 5’9″ a piece. The team will likely stick with their draft pick, Washington, as the first go-to after Lynch and Martin. Gruden wants versatility in the RBs so having Richard on the roster as an additional back in addition to his return duties is what we’ll see.
Wide Receivers (6)
Having twelve receivers on the list gives Gruden and wide receiver coach Edgar Bennett a smorgasbord of talent to choose from. The troupe covers the gamut from vets to rookies, experienced and newbies, and even white and black. *Fun Fact: Did you know that the last white wide receiver of note for the Silver & Black was Fred Biletnikoff? It’s time to make some waves in that old stereotype, Jordy!*
The entire field has lots of promise. Given Gruden’s affinity for mixing up the match-ups, he’ll keep six of the current players after all is said and done. The gimme names are Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper, and Martavis Bryant. Beyond those three, the talent drops off pretty steeply. The team brought in former Dallas return man Ryan Switzer, who will split his duties as a returner and a third-string receiver. The Raiders gave Seth Roberts a healthy extension last year, so he’s not going anywhere for now. Johnny Holton will be another backup option. Unless Marcell Ateman can show some serious chops as a receiver and a returner, the draft pick will serve as a practice squad project for the year.
Tight Ends (3)
This is a tough category to call. Anyone who has paid attention to the early part of free agency can see that this year’s team will consist of a lot of power packages, and the best way to boost those is tight ends. The list right now has a nice variety of talent, from Jared Cook as a solid receiving tight end, to Derek Carrier, who is widely known as a great blocker and an ok receiver in a pinch. Lee Smith is the Raiders’ steadfast choice as a sixth lineman, and although well-known for his blocking, he can also serve as a competent additional receiving threat. Pharaoh Brown and rookie Marcus Baugh may both make the practice squad, but it’s highly likely that one of them gets waived before the final team is compiled.
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