Raiders news: Notes on downsizing

The Las Vegas Raiders have established their initial roster of 53 players (lots of changes coming soon), so let’s look at some aspects of the first roster:

  • While the Raiders have a strong core of top talent, it’s clear new chiefs GM Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels want their own infusion of youth. All six Raiders draft picks made the list, as did four undrafted free agents, linebackers Darien Butler and Luke Masterson, cornerback Sam Webb and safety Isaiah Pola-Mao. He was probably the biggest surprise of the first 53. Butler and Pola-Mao benefited from familiarity. Butler was at Arizona State with new Raiders linebackers coach Antonio Pearce and Pola-Mao is the great-nephew of Raiders running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu.
  • The Raiders have eight offensive linemen and third-round pick Dylan Parham is likely the replacement at center and guard. I would expect this unit to be still under development as far as roster spots go.
  • The Raiders kept six running backs, including fullback Jakob Johnson. Seventh-round pick Brittain Brown was held back after a strong preseason. Starter Josh Jacobs is the only returning member of last year’s six-back squad.
  • Las Vegas kept five wide receivers with free agent pickup Keelan Cole being released, something we all saw coming when he played in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game. Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner are the fourth and fifth receivers and should be part of the special teams mix.
  • The Raiders have six defensive tackles on the roster – Bilal Nichols, Johnathan Hankins, Andrew Billings, Kendal Vickers and draft picks Neil Farrell and Matthew Butler. It will be interesting to see how the game rotation develops.
  • While Ziegler and McDaniels were loyal to 10 rookies, they eliminated several veterans who signed this offseason, including Cole, Demarcus Robinson, Vernon Butler, Kenny Young, Alex Bars, Hroniss Grasu, Darius Phillips and Kyle Peko.
  • As expected, pass-rusher Tashawn Bower made the roster after hitting four sacks in the preseason.
  • As expected, the Raiders only kept Jarrett Stidham behind starting quarterback Derek Carr. Undrafted rookie Chase Garbers will likely head to the practice squad.
  • And after? All canceled players will be available for claim on Wednesday. The Raiders have the 22nd highest waiver priority (and the 10th lowest). Players who have been released (veterans) can be signed at any time. The Raiders can also start adding to their practice squad on Wednesday as well. So expect another busy day.

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