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4 key observations from the Raiders' initial 53-man roster

The Las Vegas Raiders have released their initial 53-man roster, and it doesn't lack intrigue.

In total, 26 players were released, waived or placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Additionally, the Raiders acquired a 2024 sixth-round pick via trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. While the initial roster is out, it's hard not to imagine more changes coming as the team approaches a Week 1 battle against AFC West rival Denver Broncos.

Here are a few observations following the release of the initial 53-man roster for the 2023 season.

Signal callers

The Raiders will initially carry three quarterbacks on their active roster – which includes Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer and rookie Aidan O'Connell. This comes following the NFL's approved bylaw this spring to allow clubs to dress a third quarterback without using an active roster spot on gamedays. This is also the only position group on the roster not returning any players from last year's roster.

Quarterback Chase Garbers was waived Monday, but could potentially find himself back on the practice squad.

The 2023 draft class survives

The entirety of the 2023 draft class made the initial 53-man roster.

This includes defensive linemen Tyree Wilson, Byron Young and Nesta Jade Silvera, defensive backs Jakorian Bennett and Chris Smith II, tight end Michael Mayer, wide receiver Tre Tucker, quarterback Aidan O'Connell and linebacker Amari Burney. All nine players showcased their abilities to make plays this preseason, with O'Connell throwing for the second-most yards this preseason (482) and Mayer and Tucker combining for 115 receiving yards on eight catches.

The duo of Bennett and Smith only allowed one catch this preseason, according to Pro Football Focus. Sixth and seventh-round picks Burney and Silvera combined for 19 total tackles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

While the whole draft class made the initial roster, no UDFAs were retained on the initial roster.

Don't sleep on these three

Three under-the-radar names who earned their way on the roster are wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson, linebacker Curtis Bolton and offensive lineman Jordan Meredith.

This trio makes the 53-man roster after serving most of their young careers as practice squad players. Bolton was on the practice squad for five teams before arriving to the Raiders, and was elevated to the active roster for a career-high 10 games in 2022. He had seven total tackles and a forced fumble this preseason. Wilkerson led the league in receptions this preseason (17) with 188 yards and a touchdown. The former New England Patriot has four career games under his belt.

Meredith was a UDFA signing by the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 before signing with the Raiders in 2022 and serving on the practice squad. The former Western Kentucky Hilltopper has played in one NFL game, and earned an 83.1 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus this preseason.

Movement on the offensive line

The Raiders waived guard Alex Bars, who started 14 games at guard for the team last season. With this decision, we're likely to see a new starting right guard going into Week 1.

Of the available options, Greg Van Roten looks to be the frontrunner. Going into his ninth NFL season, he has 54 career starts and received an 89.4 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus this preseason. Other options include Meredith or Jermaine Eluemunor potentially swinging inside. Eluemunor, who started 17 games at right tackle last season, saw three starts at right guard for the Raiders in 2021.

Also can't forget to mention that Bars also didn't make the initial 53-man roster last season, but worked his way off the practice squad to the active roster. It's not impossible for him to do the same again if he's brought back.

View photos of the Silver and Black's roster as it currently stands. (Last updated Tuesday, August 29th)

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