Roster Notes: How the 2018 Oakland Raiders were built

If you looked at the Oakland Raiders roster from 2017 and compared it to the roster from 2018, there’d be a lot of changes.

Of the 53 players currently on the active roster, only 24 of them were on the active roster just a year ago. General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jon Gruden have revamped the roster at essentially every position, and the Raiders will be a new look team this season. Saturday afternoon the team made its roster cuts, and while there were some surprises, the coaching staff is confident in the group it has at their disposal. Seven of the team's nine draft picks made the 53-man roster, and are sure to play a significant amount of snaps this season.

Here’s an in-depth look at how the Raiders 53-man roster is currently assembled:

Offense

Quarterback (2) – This should come as no shock, but the Raiders are rolling with their franchise quarterback, Derek Carr. The three-time Pro Bowler has totaled 14,690 passing yards and 103 touchdowns the last four years, and he’ll look to add to that total in Gruden’s offense this season. Carr starting is obviously not a surprise, but Gruden and McKenzie surprised a lot of people Saturday when they released Connor Cook, and EJ Manuel in a corresponding move that saw them trade for veteran signal-caller AJ McCarron.

McCarron joins the team after four season in Cincinnati, and a brief stint in Buffalo.

Running Back (5) – The team will carry four running backs headed into the 2018 campaign, with the backfield once again belonging to Marshawn Lynch. Even though the Raiders added Doug Martin, Lynch will still be the featured back. DeAndré Washington and Jalen Richard are also back in the fold. Included with this group is also fullback Keith Smith, who joined the Raiders this offseason. Expect Smith to be featured in Gruden’s system quite a bit as well.

Wide Receiver (6) – Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper will be the featured receivers, and Gruden hasn’t been shy about his desire to get them both the ball. It was assumed Martavis Bryant would also be a member of the Silver and Black this season, but after missing extended time in training camp the team opted to release him.

Monday the team signed veteran wide receiver Brandon LaFell to the roster. LaFell has 5,263 receiving yards in his career, and 29 touchdowns.

Tight End (3) – Whether it’s blocking or receiving, the Raiders have both covered at the tight end position. Lee Smith and Derek Carrier are both known for their blocking abilities, and Jared Cook led the team in receiving in 2017 with 688 yards.

Offensive Line (9) – Returning to fortify the trenches are the stout trio of Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson. The three have served as a brick wall in the middle of the Raiders O-line over the years, and they’ll be joined by 2018 first-round selection Kolton Miller. The former UCLA Bruin will be featured at the left tackle position, and veteran Pro Bowler Donald Penn will rotate to right tackle.

Here's a look at the Raiders' current 53-man roster heading into the regular season.

Defense

Cornerback (5) – Aside from Gareon Conley, this is an entirely new group at cornerback. The team drafted Nick Nelson out of Wisconsin, and added Rashaan Melvin, Leon Hall, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency.

Safety (4) – The unit will once again be led by veteran safety Reggie Nelson, except this time he’ll be accompanied by Marcus Gilchrist. The team added Gilchrist in free agency, and is hopeful he’ll be able to improve the secondary’s production. Karl Joseph and Erik Harris are both returning to the squad as well.

Linebacker (7) – Another group that’s been overhauled this year. Second-year players Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow had quality rookie seasons, and it’s clear the new coaching staff like what they see as well. McKenzie added more veteran experience to the linebackers room though, bringing in Tahir Whitehead and Derrick Johnson to assist in the development of some of the younger players.

Defensive Line (9) – Bruce Irvin will be accompanied by a handful of promising rookies this season. Between Maurice Hurst Jr., Arden Key, and P.J. Hall, the Raiders are confident in the team’s interior pass rush this season. As Gruden said during his press conference Sunday, the Raiders will miss Khalil Mack, but it’s time to move forward.

Special Teams

Punter (1) – Goodbye Marquette King, hello Johnny “Moonshot” Townsend. The rookie punter from the University of Florida has shown his ability to position punts accurately, and will be Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia guy this season.

Kicker (1) – Through training camp, rookie Eddy Piñeiro was in a competition with Giorgio Tavecchio, prior to being released, and Mike Nugent; however, due to injury, Piñeiro has been placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Nugent will be the Raiders starting placekicker Week 1.

Long Snapper (1) – Jon Condo spent 11 seasons in the Silver and Black, but the time has come for Andrew DePaola. At all three positions the Raiders have a trio of new faces. Through preseason and training camp DePaola has been consistent.

The Raiders are one week away from kicking off against the Rams on Monday Night Football. In Head Coach Jon Gruden’s official first game back on the sidelines, this isn’t a game you’ll want to miss.

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