With plenty of time left before the season starts, let’s take a look at how the Las Vegas Raiders roster might look in 2021.
It’s too obviously early to know who will make the team before camp even starts but there’s no problem guessing, right? The draft gave us a better idea of how the roster could be set up this season. This list might have some takes to make some rejoice and others wonder. Here is what we got so far.
First up, the Raiders’ offense…
QB: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman
Same as last year, Derek Carr isn’t top tier but has made improvements every year to be the Raiders’ starting quarterback. Even if his performance and/or health aren’t up to par, Marcus Mariota will be an excellent backup. Peterman will be the third-string as Gruden likes having three quarterbacks on the roster.
RB: Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Trey Ragas, Alec Ingold
While Josh Jacobs didn’t run as well per carry, he still doubled his touchdown total. Kenyan Drake will help lighten the workload for Jacobs and is a quality pass catcher. Alec Ingold has been a solid fullback going into his third year with the Raiders and has proven to be reliable a bit outside of short-yardage runs. Lastly, UDFA Trey Ragas has an impressive resume out of Louisiana where he averaged six YPC and scored a total of 43 scrimmage touchdowns. Jalen Richard will likely be traded or cut to give Ragas the roster spot and reduce the salary.
TE: Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
This can be one of the best tight end groups in the NFL. Darren Waller’s coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and will look to be Carr’s number one receiver again in 2021. Foster Moreau had his playing time reduced with Jason Witten on the team last year but will hopefully be a red zone threat again like in 2019. Derek Carrier won’t see many snaps but will fill in for special teams.
WR: Henry Ruggs III, John Brown, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Willie Snead IV, Zay Jones
John Brown will be taking Nelson Agholor’s previous role as the veteran amongst this group. Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards will look to have healthier seasons and get more involved in the offense. Hunter Renfrow will also look to have an important role in the slot, especially on third down. Willie Snead has what it takes to be a decent backup after having a quiet stint in Baltimore. Zay Jones will probably get time in special teams and a few opportunities to make some plays. Don’t be surprised though if someone younger takes his spot.
OL: Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, Andre James, Denzelle Good, Alex Leatherwood, Brandon Parker, John Simpson, Nick Martin, Erik Magnuson
Much different from last year, Kolton Miller should be the leader of this group. Everyone else is either younger or didn’t have as much playing time as the previous group. Something to take note of is that while their passing grades per Pro Football Focus weren’t as high as last year’s line, they were higher in run-blocking. A clear sign of how committed Jon Gruden will be to the run game this year.
Onto the Raiders defense…
DT: Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Johnathan Hankins, David Irving
Not the most intimidating group but there’s plenty of room for potential. Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson are both on one-year deals with Jefferson having a higher upside. Johnathan Hankins has been very consistent in the run and not bad in defending the pass. David Irving only played two games with little impact last year but the Raiders still believed in him enough for another contract. One name to look for to steal a spot that isn’t here is Darius Stills. He was actually projected to be drafted between the fourth and sixth round. Stills racked up 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his last two years at West Virginia.
DE: Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Clelin Ferrell, Malcolm Koonce, Carl Nassib
This unit can be absolutely something special. Having Yannick Ngakoue will be the closest thing the Raiders have had to Khalil Mack since trading him. Having help like that will work wonders for Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell and help the latter focus more on the run. Malcolm Koonce can make some noise in small samples as he earned 17 sacks in his collegiate career. While rumors have circulated about the Raiders trying to get rid of Nassib’s contract, it looks like he’ll stick around. He wasn’t exactly “bad” but still not worth the $9.5 million he is due to make this year.
LB: Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Nicholas Morrow, Divine Deablo, Tanner Muse, *Kyle Wilber/Javin White
Cory Littleton had a down year but showed improvement after the firing of Paul Guenther. Gus Bradley will look to utilize Littleton’s strengths in his second year with the Raiders. Kwiatkoski was both decent and consistent, he should have the green-dot as he did last year. Nicholas Morrow has grown a lot since coming to the team as a UDFA in 2017 and will certainly have a lot of playing time. Tanner Muse has a lot to prove as he didn’t play a single snap last year and is remembered as a questionable draft pick. Divine Deablo is transitioning from safety to edge rusher and can be a sleeper to make an impact for the Raiders. An asterisk is on Wilber because he hasn’t been signed yet but seems way too ideal for special teams. If remained unsigned, then it’s possible for the Raiders to have Javin White round off the unit.
CB: Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, Casey Hayward, Isaiah Johnson, Rasul Douglas, Amik Robertson
Trayvon Mullen should be number one in this group as he has been the most consistent. Damon Arnette is only in his second year but needs to improve his play and availability. Casey Hayward, who was signed last week, could steal Arnette’s spot as the number two corner if he stagnates. Isaiah Johnson might not have been great but he had some bright spots, especially when he iced the Chargers game in Week 9 last year. Rasul Douglas has played for four years and doesn’t have too much to show for it, so he’ll likely just be depth and be more involved in special teams. Amik Robertson had some hype as a future starter at the nickel but hasn’t had much playing time. He will be important for new defensive backs coach Ron Milus to develop.
S: Johnathan Abram, Trevon Moehrig, Karl Joseph, Tyree Gillespie
Johnathan Abram had some nice tackles and a couple of picks but overall was very inconsistent. With rookie Trevon Moehrig being a true centerfield safety, Abram can focus more on the box where he’s better suited. Moehrig looks like he can be a true ballhawk on this defense which has been desperately needed for a while. Karl Joseph will certainly get some playing time, especially if there are any injuries, and is a great tackler. Gillespie will mainly play on special teams but will get some snaps here and there.
ST: Daniel Carlson, A.J. Cole, Trent Sieg
A solid group all around. Carlson was invaluable and broke the franchise record for most points scored in a single season. Unfortunately, this says more about the team’s inability to score touchdowns consistently. A.J. Cole isn’t asked to do much and has done his job, averaging 44.1 yards per punt. Honestly can’t say much about Sieg but that can be viewed as a good thing since he hasn’t done anything to cause concern.
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*Top Photo: Getty Images/Ethan Miller