2018 was another down year for the Oakland Raiders. John Gruden was re-hired after a 10-year stint away from the sidelines. They traded away star pass rusher Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper to the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys respectively, showing that Gruden wanted to change the identity of the team. After a 4-12 season, they are looking to improve.

A big change that happened was trading for star wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown automatically makes the Raiders better on the offensive end. Outside of that, they used their three first-round picks they acquired from the Bears and Cowboys on Clelin Farrell, Josh Jacobs, and Johnathan Abram, who all look to immediately make an impact on the field.

With the regular season getting closer and three preseason games out of the way, the roster looks to almost be set at 53. Here is who I have starting for Oakland, as well as the backups, and who may be on the outs when the preseason cuts take effect.

Quarterbacks

Credit: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group
  • Starter: Derek Carr
  • Backup: Nathan Peterman
  • Preseason Cuts: Mike Glennon

Carr has been a solid starter since the Raiders drafted him in 2014 and is the clear-cut starter once again. It is really the backup spot that is getting a lot of attention.

While many believed Glennon would easily win the backup job, Peterman has surprised a lot of people. The former Buffalo Bill interception machine has turned things around in a city new, showing he can actually throw to his teammates and even shows flashes of mobility. Sometimes, a simple new jersey can turn your career around.

Peterman led the team to a fourth quarter of the game to defeat the Green Bay Packers 22-21, while Mike Glennon only received one-quarter of play in the game. Due to him playing sparingly in this preseason, he’ll likely not make the opening week roster.

Running Backs

Credit: Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports
  • Starter: Josh Jacobs
  • Backups: Jalen Richard, DeAndré Washington, Alec Ingold
  • Preseason Cuts: Mack Brown, James Butler, Keith Smith
  • Out for the Year: Isaiah Crowell, Doug Martin

Jacobs was a first-round pick and looks to be the full-time feature back for the foreseeable future, so he is a lock to make the roster. Richard also is a lock as he has been a solid pass-catching game for Oakland for the past few seasons.

Martin was supposed to be the main backup but a shoulder will have him miss the entire 2019 season, so I have Washington making the roster as he has been with the team for a few seasons.

Ingold makes the team over Smith to make the fullback spot. Him sitting out during the Green Bay game has me believing that he won the job for the 2019 season.

Wide Receivers

Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow
  • Backups: J.J. Nelson, Dwayne Harris, Keelan Doss
  • Preseason Cuts: Marcell Ateman, Rico Gaffold, Ryan Grant, Keon Hatcher, De’Mornay Pierson-El

The wide receiver is a huge upgrade for the team. If Brown can get past his helmet issue, which it looks like he has, he will be the lead man. Williams was signed this past offense after an impressive stint with the Los Angeles Chargers, so he’ll start opposite of Brown. The rookie Renfrow was very productive during his time with Clemson and looks to be the starting slot receiver.

Nelson will be the main backup to Renfrow in the slot spot while Harris makes the team as he is a productive kick/punt returner. The last receiver spot goes to Doss here, as he has played the majority of the snaps as of late compared to the other receivers eyeing for that last spot. Overall, Carr has a lot of targets to throw to.

Tight Ends

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports
  • Starter: Darren Waller
  • Backups: Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
  • Preseason Cuts: Luke Wilson, Brandon Barnes, Paul Butler

Waller, a former wide receiver, has turned a lot of heads in training camp. He has the size and speed to be a solid tight end in the NFL and it’ll be interesting to see how he plays as a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Moreau was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He is mainly a blocking-style tight end and his spot on the roster is set.

The final spot can come down to Carrier and Wilson but I give the edge to Carrier as he has been more consistent during the preseason, so the nod goes to him.

Offensive Line

Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Starters: Kolton Miller, Jonathan Cooper, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Trent Brown
  • Backups: Jordan Devey, Denver Kirkland, David Sharpe, Lester Cotton Sr.
  • Preseason Cuts: Brandon Parker, Denzelle Good, Cameron Hunt, Andre James, Justin Murray, Tyler Roemer
  • Suspended: Richie Incognito

The offensive line looks to be solid heading into 2019. Miller is a former first-round pick looking to make the next step forward while Brown was signed to a big contract this past offseason, so both tackle spots are locked in. Hudson is one of the best centers in the league so he is locked in at the center spot. The guard spots seem to be in question right now, with Jackson suffering an injury with an unknown return while Incognito will miss the first two games due to suspension.

The Raiders picked up Cooper and will start at left guard for the time being. Devey will move over to the right guard position until Jackson returns. Kirkland, Sharper, and Cotton Sr. provide solid depth for the line. Once Jackson and Incognito return, this line will improve.

Defensive Line

Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Clelin Ferrell, Justin Ellis, Johnathan Hankins, Josh Mauro
  • Backups: Arden Key, Maurice Hurst Jr., P.J. Hall, Ethan Westbrooks, Anthony Rush, Maxx Crosby
  • Preseason Cuts: Alex Barrett, Quinton Bell, Benson Mayowa, Eddie Vanderdoes, Gabe Wright

The defensive line looks to be much improved and have a lot of young players looking to make huge improvements. Ferrell was drafted fourth overall and looks to be the star on the line. Mauro was signed this past offseason and looks to start next to Ferrell. Ellis and Hankins are solid veteran defensive tackles that’ll likely start in the middle.

Guys like Key, Hurst Jr., and Hall are young that look to be key rotation lineman. Westbrooks, Rush, and Crosby make the roster as well and also provide solid depth on an already impressive defensive line.

Linebackers

Credit: Oakland Raiders Website
  • Starters: Tahir Whitehead, Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall
  • Backups: Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, Te’Von Coney
  • Preseason Cuts: Jason Cabinda, James Cowser, Kow Farmer, Kyle Wilber

The Raiders linebacker core is solid here, with Burfict and Marshall being signed this past offseason and look to be the leaders of the group. Whitehead is another veteran and rarely misses games, so he starts to complete the trio.

Lee, Morrow, and Coney is a solid young trio to develop and could be the starting trio down the line but for now, they look to be the backups and could contribute on Special Teams.

Cornerbacks

Credit: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images
  • Starters: Daryl Worley, Nevin Lawson
  • Backups: Gareon Conley, Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson
  • Preseason Cuts: Keisean Nixon, Makinton Dorleant, Dylan Mabin, Nick Nelson
  • Out for the Year: D.J. Killings

Oakland’s corner spot seems to be in question. Worley looks to be the lead man in that group and starts on one side while Lawson starts on the other side.

Lawson did struggle a bit, mainly in the Green Bay game. Guys like Conley and Mullen will compete for snaps at the nickel spot but could also get the nod to start opposite of Worley if Lawson continues to struggle. Johnson, a fourth-round selection in 2019, makes the team and could develop into a starter down the line.

Safeties

Credit: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph
  • Backups: Johnathan Abram, Erik Harris
  • Preseason Cuts: Joshua Hosley, Dallin Leavitt, Jordan Richards, Curtis Riley

Joyner may be listed as a safety but does line up at times in the box with the linebackers, making him a versatile starter. Joseph has had an up-and-down tenure with Oakland and after the team declined his fifth-year option, he has a lot to prove in hopes to earn that second contract.

Abram has been impressive in training camp and the coaching staff seems to be excited to see what their third first-round pick can do on game day. He may be the backup here, but he could get the starting nod sooner rather than later. Harris has also been impressive so far and his hard-hitting ability earns him a spot here and could be a key Special Teamer.

Specialists

Credit: Oakland Raiders Website
  • Kicker: Daniel Carlson
  • Punter: A.J. Cole III
  • Long Snapper: Trent Sieg
  • Preseason Cuts: Andrew DePaola

Since Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders have yet to find a consistent kicker. That was the case until Carlson came into the picture. He has been solid this preseason, going 3-for-3 in field goals, including the game-winner against Green Bay.

Cole won the punting job early in camp after the team traded Johnny Townsend. Sieg looks to be the team’s long snapper.

The Oakland Raiders have a lot to prove in 2019. Carr is a consistent QB while Jacobs looks to be an early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year as the teams feature back. Brown is still one of the best wide receivers in the league while Williams is a solid starter in his own right, giving Carr some great targets to throw to. The offensive line seems to be great once again while Waller has a lot to prove as a full-time starting tight end.

The defensive has some solid pieces, mainly on the defensive line. They have a nice combination of young and veteran players that form a nice rotation in that department. The linebacking core also has a combination of young and veteran players that look to turn some heads. The safety department, lead by Joyner, Joseph, and the rookie Abram is a nice group to have in the back end of the defense. The only question here is the corners and how they’ll perform once the regular season rolls around.

The Raiders are in a tough division with the Kansas City Chiefs and Chargers looking like the top dogs. They could compete for a playoff spot but it may be tough here. I expect an improvement from their 4-12 campaign in 2018 but they may be on the outside looking in once the playoffs roll around.

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