Following Thursday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, general manager Reggie McKenzie and company will have to complete the arduous task of trimming the Oakland Raiders’ roster down to the its final 53. On August 27th, the Raiders began this process, paring down their roster from 90 NFL hopefuls to only 75. While most of the first 15 players cut were of the “obvious” variety, the remaining 22 will not. Indeed, McKenzie has a difficult job ahead — one that will likely require him to part ways with some beloved prospects.
The following is my prediction as to which offensive players Mckenzie will keep. The prediction is based on complicated algorithms, which can be effectively summed up with four words and one ampersand: Deductive reasoning & blind guessing.
Should I get any of my more extreme predictions correct, I will forever flaunt it in the face of both my readership and fellow bloggers. Should I get them wrong, I will just criticize McKenzie for failing to have my expertise. In all, it’s a win-win.
Carson Palmer / Matt Leinhart
If the Packers organization is any sort of template (which it is, as exemplified by the Draft), then the Raiders will have no qualms about carrying only two quarterbacks. In fact, last year was one of the rare times the Packers kept more than two quarterbacks after training camp.
What’s that you say: Terrelle Pryor was a 3rd round selection, and there is no way the Raiders will give up on him? Au contraire! The Packers front office cut quarterback Brian Brohm one year after drafting him in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Unless general manager Reggie McKenzie sees something I don’t, I would be surprised if Pryor makes the team. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Pryor playing his old college position:
All jokes aside, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to imagine Pryor as a member of the practice squad. He is an explosive athlete, to be sure, but his skill set as a quarterback is anything but unique. Plenty of mobile, explosive quarterbacks will be released this weekend, which means Pryor will not be in high demand.
Running Back (3)
Darren McFadden / Taiwan Jones / Mystery Man
I think the Raiders will address this position after final cuts are made. While McFadden is proven commodity, Goodson and Jones are not. Plus, given Goodson’s fumbling problems and Jones’ injury history, it would be prudent for the Raiders to try and add a running back or two. In fact, Goodson’s fumbling problems merely compound his productivity issues. The result of these two tragic shortcomings equates to Goodson release.
It is anyone’s guess as to whom the mystery man will be. If James Starks is cut, he could be an option–but that all depends on his turf toe injury. Also, the recently released Kahlil Bell could be another option here. He has a history running in a zone blocking system, both in Chicago and at UCLA–though you’d think he would have already signed. Steve Slaton, should he become available, would be a good option as well.
Marcell Reece / Owen Schmitt
Traditionally, the Packers have kept multiple fullbacks, which makes this prediction seem like a no-brainer. Reece will likely be asked to fill a myriad of roles, so keeping Schmitt will be important.
Wide Receiver (5)
Darrius Heyward-Bey / Denarius Moore / Jacoby Ford / Rod Streater / Juron Criner
Though Eddie McGee has had a strong camp/preseason, I don’t envision the Raiders keeping six wide-outs. McGee would likely make it through waivers unclaimed and could be stashed on the practice squad. These receivers is lacking experience and size, but I don’t see the Raiders supplementing the group. Adding receivers after cut-down day would only set the offense back even further.
It is for this last reason that I don’t see Roscoe Parrish sticking around with the club. Sure, the Raiders’ return game has been dismal, but is Parrish really an upgrade over Jacoby Ford or Bryan McCann? Though Parrish was highly successful in 2007 and 2008, he hasn’t been since, and it’s dubious that he could return to his old form — the Chargers certainly didn’t think he could.
Tight End (3)
Brandon Myers / Richard Gordon / David Ausberry
Three players, no starters. That sums up the tight end situation. I’m sure Myers will begin the season as the starter — and Myers is sure of this as well — but that isn’t exactly an enticing possibility. Myers does a lot of thing okay, but nothing great. If Gordon continues to improve as a receiver, he’ll could take that spot. Or, if Ausberry makes a leap in his transition from receiver, then he’d be the obvious choice.
Offensive Line (9)
Jared Veldheer / Khalif Barnes / Mike Brisiel / Cooper Carlisle / Stefen Wisniewski / Tony Bergstrom / Alex Parsons /Kevin Haslam / Joe Barksdale
I think the Raiders go heavy on offensive linemen because they need to with Stefen Wisniewski sidelined with a calf injury. Given his versatility and experience, I chose to keep Haslam.
I almost chose to leave Joe Barksdale out of this projection. From what I’ve seen, Barksdale has been anything but serviceable. Also, I’m not sure how well Barksdale fits the zone blocking scheme. The Packers front office has a history of trading players during cut-down time. In 2009, they traded offensive lineman Tony Moll to the Baltimore Ravens for cornerback Derrick Martin. Last season, the team traded fullback Quinn Johnson to the Titans and guard Caleb Schlauderaff to the Jets. In short, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barksdale goes, but he stays for now.
The remaining 28 will be revealed in a not-too-distant future blog. Hint: K Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo make the roster.