While there are always surprises when finalizing the 53-man roster, the Raiders turned some heads once again this year.
In an offseason unlike any other, making the 53-man roster for undrafted rookies or players on the roster bubble — it couldn’t have been any more difficult for each player to prove their value to the coaching staff.
Without any preseason games leading up to the Raiders’ Week 1 matchup against the Carolina Panthers, general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden were forced to evaluate each player exclusively off of training camp practices, which led to their selections of the 53-man roster. While that gives them a basic principle of what to expect once the regular season starts, there’s no such thing as simulating an in-season game during practice.
Just about every year, each team has a few roster cuts that come by a surprise. Including the Raiders, who had quite a few themself.
Raiders Roster Cuts Earlier This Week
In the early stages of free agency, the Raiders added cornerback Prince Amukamara and free safety Damarious Randall. At least initially, both projected as potential starters and players who would provide a veteran presence along a secondary that’s littered with youth throughout the position. The Raiders announced earlier this week, Amukamara and Randall have been released ahead of the 53-man cutdown.
With the Raiders cutting loose Amukamara, that leaves rookie cornerback Damon Arnette as the penciled in day one starter to play opposite of second-year cornerback, Trayvon Mullen. Heading into Week 1, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will be without any outside cornerback who possesses the experience of playing in a starting role over the complexity of an enitre season. Although, the Raiders will be able to activate Nevin Lawson in Week 2, after he serves his one-week suspension.
Lynn Bowden Jr.
After spending the 80th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders sent Lynn Bowden Jr. and a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Bowden had high praise leading up to training camp for his ability to line up in several positions. Whether he lined up at running back, wide receiver, or wildcat quarterback, Bowden kept opposing defenses on their toes during his college days at the University of Kentucky. After selecting the versatile rookie on day two of the NFL Draft, Mayock mentioned Bowden as a playmaker who could be slotted into the “joker role” in Gruden’s offense.
With reports indicating Bowden’s struggling efforts to pickup blockers in training camp, it appears the Raiders had a different vision than what the former Kentucky quarterback was able to do as a member of the Las Vegas backfield.
With starting right tackle Trent Brown missing the majority of training camp for undisclosed reasons, Sam Young began taking the first-team reps. Young’s release of the team comes quite surprising after the Raiders traded swing tackle David Sharpe to the Washington Football Team just a few days ago.
As a result of the two departures of the offensive tackles, Brandon Parker will now slot in as the primary swing tackle, cementing yet another surprising decision to the Raiders’ 53-man roster. If the tackle depth blows up in the face of the Raiders, Denzelle Good could be another viable option to fill in, but the majority of his reps in the NFL have come at the guard position.
Javin White, the local UNLV product created noticeable buzz during training camp and was thought to have a chance at making the Raiders’ 53-man roster. As an undrafted rookie, White had a substantial task to overcome based on the elimination of preseason games, limiting his exposure to the coaching staff in a game-like setting.
With the Raiders adding Raekwon McMillan via trade from the Dolphins last week, it appears White was bumped off the roster based on a numbers game in the linebacker room. All signs were positive for White leading up to today’s cutdown date, and he could still wind up back with the Raiders as a member of their practice squad.