And then there were 53.
Today is a rough day across the NFL, as over 1,000 players are cut by their respective NFL clubs.
Like the other 31 teams, the Oakland Raiders trimmed their roster from 90 to 53, turning in their finalized roster prior to Saturday’s 1:00 p.m. PST deadline.
Next up for the Silver and Black is a dive into preparation for their Week 1 opener against the Tennessee Titans, but in the wake of all the activity today, here are five observations about the Raiders initial 53-man roster.
1. It was a strong showing from the draft class
General Manager Reggie McKenzie selected nine players in the 2017 NFL Draft, and of those nine, eight made the team’s final roster, with the exception being running back Elijah Hood.
And while the former North Carolina Tar Heel didn’t end up as one of the 53, he put together a quality training camp, and played decently well in his limited run in the preseason.
It’s no secret that good teams build through the draft, and over the past few years, McKenzie has done just that. From defensive tackle to Eddie Vanderdoes to safety Shalom Luani, the Silver and Black have gotten a good amount of production from the players in the draft class.
Don’t sleep on Jylan Ware either….
- Greenville, stand up
Like clockwork, it seems like each year there is a player or two who comes out of nowhere to make the final roster, and this year that role has been filled by linebacker Nicholas Morrow.
The undrafted rookie from Greenville slowly but surely earned more reps as training camp and the preseason wore on, even getting some sporadic run with the starting defense.
Morrow no doubt made the most of those opportunities, and now as a result, he’s earned his way onto the Raiders final roster.
It remains to be seen how much time he’ll get once the games start to mean something, but it’s no easy task for an undrafted player from a Division III school to make an NFL roster, and Morrow deserves a ton of credit for doing just that.
Shout out to Greenville University too; as Morrow is the first NFL player to come out of the school.
3. Once again, the Raiders will carry three quarterbacks
I say it all the time, but depth is the name of the game, even at the quarterback position.
It seems like this season, it’s become trendy for teams to only keep a pair of signal-callers on the active roster, but that’s not the case for the Silver and Black as Derek Carr, Connor Cook, and EJ Manuel will all remain on the 53-man roster.
If all goes to plan, the only time we’ll see Cook or Manuel is if the game is out of reach, but as we learned last year, you can never have enough quality depth at the quarterback position.
4. Johnny Holton is back in the mix
The former Cincinnati Bearcat appeared in 15 games his rookie season, primarily getting work on the Raiders special teams units, and now after making the Raiders 53-man roster, he’ll be back in the mix in 2017.
Holton was admittedly raw as a receiver when he arrived at the team’s Alameda, Calif., facility last year, but No. 16 has something in his arsenal that you just can’t teach; speed.
That speed not only makes him an interesting prospect out wide, but it makes him even more valuable on special teams, particularly paired with the losses of several special teams stalwarts in free agency this offseason.
I expect Holton to once again make his hay on the Raiders coverage units, but I’m looking forward to also seeing if he can take the next step in his development as a pass catcher, and provide Carr yet *another *dynamic weapon to utilize out wide.
5. There’s a youth movement afoot at the linebacker position
With Nicholas Morrow in the mix, as well as fellow rookie linebacker Marquel Lee earning a spot on the squad, there is certainly a youth movement afoot on the Raiders roster.
Since Ben Heeney is no longer on the roster, and in a somewhat surprising move, Shilique Calhoun has been waived, the Silver and Black are going young at the linebacker position.
With just five true linebackers on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see how this group in particular develops throughout the season.