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Final 53 projection: Raiders’ defense

The Raiders have now completed training camp and played in all four pre-season games. They have, in the last week, cut their team down to only 75 players.

Now comes the truly difficult part: trimming the roster down to the final 53 players. Here are my projections of who that will include:

For the offensive players, click here

Players in bold are the ones that make the final roster


Defensive Line: 8
Justin Tuck
Antonio Smith
Pat Sims
LaMarr Woodley
C.J. Wilson
Stacy McGee
Justin Ellis
Shelby Harris
Ricky Lumpkin (practice squad)
Ryan Robinson (practice squad)
Jack Crawford (practice squad)
Denico Autry

Analysis: Tuck, Woodley, Smith, and Sims are the starting defensive line. I have McGee and Ellis as second team tackles and Wilson and Harris as the backup defensive ends. Jack Crawford has not had a strong pre-season, although it’s possible that he still makes the team over Harris.

I think Lumpkin, Robinson and Crawford are all good practice squad candidates at this point.


Linebacker: 6
Khalil Mack
Nick Roach
Sio Moore
Miles Burris
Kaluka Maiava
Kaelin Burnett

Bojay Filimoeatu (Practice Squad)
Carlos Fields
Spencer Hadley

Analysis: Khalil Mack, Nick Roach, and Sio Moore are locks as the starters. Miles Burris is a versatile backup at multiple positions and can step in as a starter, if needed. Kaluka Maiava is also better as a backup but has some starting experience and is a solid vet.

Kaelin Burnett has made great strides as an outside linebacker, this year, and he also is a big special teams’ player. In fact, Burnett was one of the only backups to get a rest in week 4 of the preseason because the team knows and likes what it has in him.

Of the rookies, Bojay Filimoeatu has looked the best and is the best shot to make the practice squad.


Cornerback: 7
Tarell Brown
Carlos Rogers
Chimdi Chekwa
Keith McGill
TJ Carrie
Neiko Thorpe
Taiwan Jones

Chance Casey (practice squad)

Analysis: The Raiders keep 7 cornerbacks because of the depth and young talent they have. The team will go with Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers as their starters at the beginning of the season but those two could be pushed for time by best Neiko Thorpe and Chimdi Chekwa and possibly even rookie TJ Carrie.

Keith McGill has been very inconsistent but he’s fairly new to the CB position and has too much promise to cut.

DJ Hayden is on PUP and will miss the first 6 weeks of the season because of that.

Chance Casey was on the practice squad last year and I think he may make it again this year but I also think the team may look for someone to replace him as he has not taken the steps forward to be a real contender for the team.

I have Taiwan Jones listed, here, although he’s just depth at the position. He makes the team as a special teams’ gunner, not as a cornerback.


Safety: 4
Tyvon Branch
Charles Woodson
Jonathan Dowling
Usama Young
Brandian Ross

Analysis: Barring injury, Woodson and Branch seem like locks as the starting free and strong safety, respectively. I think that Dowling, a young safety that many think was a steal in the 7th round, makes the squad.

Usama Young missed a lot of camp but he’s a decent vet with starting experience and that will likely bode well for him.


Total defense: 25