Raiders: Final 53-man roster projection after the 2022 preseason
Defensive Front 7
EDGE – 5 (30)
- Maxx Crosby
- Chandler Jones
- Malcolm Koonce
- Clelin Ferrell
- Tashawn Bower
Analysis: Kyler Fackrell was set to be the team’s first rotational edge rusher, but one trip to the Injured Reserves list ended all of that. With a free roster spot open in his absence, someone gets a golden ticket to the active roster.
After this preseason, no one is more deserving of that spot than Tashawn Bower, who logged 4 sacks and a fumble recovery through his four contests. Bower also totaled the third-most run stops from the edge position, proving to be as dominant against the run as he is when attacking the quarterback.
Some clamor for Ferrell’s release, but it’s not going to happen. Earlier, I mentioned cutting Leatherwood results in an $8 million cap hit. For Clelin, that number is $10 million. Ferrell should have an expanded role in Patrick Graham’s system, and the Raiders could use the depth after both Ferrell and Jordan Jenkins hit IR.
Defensive tackle – 5 (35)
- Bilal Nichols
- Johnathan Hankins
- Andrew Billings
- Matthew Butler
- Kendal Vickers
Analysis: Of all the position groups, this is head and shoulders the one I feel the least confident about. Between having two rookies and both starters missing camp with injuries, I just have no idea what will happen. I’d even go as far as saying Bilal Nichols is the only defensive tackle I’d lock into the roster, although Hankins and Billings have great cases as well.
The Raiders clearly missed Big Hank as the team struggled to clog the trenches all preseason. Even Billings wasn’t too sharp against the run, although his monstrous pass-rushing grade of 83.9 made up for it.
Of all the defensive tackles on the roster, Kendal Vickers’s 61.5 grade in run defense sat at the top of the pyramid. That isn’t the only reason I gave Vickers the nod, though.
Kendal Vickers has been involved with the Raiders since 2020, although most of his time has been on the practice squad. His pass-rushing skills and versatility make him an asset to Patrick Graham. Graham can place Vickers anywhere on the D-line, and he should get results.
Fifth-round pick Matthew Butler made the cut, but fourth-round DT Neil Farrell Jr. is the odd man out. Both of these rookies were pretty unremarkable during the preseason, but it’s still fair to assume at least one makes the active roster. Neither Farrell nor Butler posted a run defense grade higher than 48, with Farrell sinking as low as 40.2. There’s still a real possibility both make it and in the same breath, don’t rule out neither making it.
Linebackers – 5 (40)
- Denzel Perryman
- Jayon Brown
- Divine Deablo
- Luke Masterson
- Darien Butler
Analysis: Can we take a moment to admire the superb undrafted free agent class of 2022? Not only was Masterson part of this class, but so was Darien Butler.
Micah Kiser being placed on the injured reserves list loosens up the competition, allowing Masterson to slip in with ease. Masterson had a wondrous preseason campaign, leading the Raiders in tackles on two occasions, and snagging an interception against Pro Bowl quarterback Mac Jones. It’s hard to imagine he didn’t earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
In all honesty, the Raiders don’t need 5 true linebackers, but I still gave Butler the nod here in acknowledgment of his tremendous camp. There’s a good chance Darien Butler doesn’t last through the final cutdown for this reason, but still, it’s not unrealistic to say he’ll earn a spot.