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Las Vegas Raiders: 53-man depth chart projections before training camp

Moe Moton

The Las Vegas Raiders’ rookies will report to training camp on July 18, and the veterans follow suit on July 20. They’re about to begin a long journey that begins at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson, Nevada.

This summer, the Raiders must sort out position battles across the offensive line, at wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and on the defensive line. The club needs quality depth in various spots as well.

New head coach and offensive play-caller Josh McDaniels doesn’t have to worry too much about the core of his offense, but based on what he sees early at training camp, the team may have to add an offensive lineman to make sure the unit shows some improvement from the previous season.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders training camp FAQ

We’ll finally get an idea of how incoming defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wants to shape the defense. Where will Clelin Ferrell line up? How will the revamped linebacker group shake out? Who’s going to replace cornerback Casey Hayward on the boundary?

Let’s take a look at pre-training camp projections for the Raiders’ 53-man depth chart, which features some surprises.

Quarterbacks (2)

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
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We don’t talk about Carr’s durability enough. He’s only missed two regular-season games and a playoff matchup against the Houston Texans in 2017. Because of his reliability, the Raiders don’t need to keep three quarterbacks.

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Mullens beats out Jarrett Stidham for the backup job. He has more live-game experience with eight starts in the 2018 and 2020 seasons. The sixth-year pro can play in a pinch if necessary or in blowout games. At 27 years old, he still has room to grow.

Running backs (5)

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
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  • Starters: Josh Jacobs (RB), Jakob Johnson (FB)
  • Backups: Kenyan Drake, Zamir White, Brandon Bolden

McDaniels will likely employ a backfield committee with Jacobs at the head of the ground attack. Drake and White can spell him in situations with the latter getting more touches toward the end of the campaign.

The front office selected White in the fourth round of the 2022 draft and declined to exercise Jacobs’ fifth-year option, which may be an indication that the coaching staff may lean on the rookie down the stretch for an early look at him in a lead role.

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Drake and Bolden will handle most of the pass-catching and third-down duties while Johnson serves as the battering ram to clear the way for ball-carriers.

Wide receivers (6)

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
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  • Starters: Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Keelan Cole
  • Backups: Demarcus Robinson, Mack Hollins, Tyron Johnson

Cole and Robinson will split snaps at the No. 3 wideout spot when McDaniels uses three-wide receiver sets.

Hollins will likely become a special teams captain and potential red-zone threat because of his 6’4″, 221-pound frame.

In May, Vegas traded Bryan Edwards to the Atlanta Falcons, which clears a spot for a wideout who may have been cut at the end of the summer. Johnson could be the beneficiary of that transaction. He brings top-gear speed—a much-needed quality within the Raiders’ receiver corps.

Tight Ends (3)

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
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  • Starter: Darren Waller
  • Backups: Foster Moreau, Jacob Hollister

You’ll probably see Waller line up at wide receiver in certain formations, which will allow Moreau to play the featured tight end role. The coaching staff can exercise its creativity with this group because of the varied skill sets in the room.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raiders, check out #RaiderNation rumors, rankings, and news here.

Jacob Hollister beats out Nick Bowers for the No. 3 spot. He has ties to McDaniels with two seasons in New England between 2017 and 2018. Also, Hollister carved out a decent role for himself in a couple of campaigns with the Seattle Seahawks, hauling in 66 passes for 558 yards and six touchdowns between 2019 and 2020.

Offensive line (9)

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
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  • Starters: Kolton Miller, John Simpson, Andre James, Alex Leatherwood, Jermaine Eluemunor
  • Backups: Brandon Parker, Dylan Parham, Alex Bars, free-agent signing

Don’t rule out a midsummer addition for the offensive line. The five-man unit must keep Carr upright, so he’s able to take full advantage of a passing attack loaded with playmakers.

In 2021, Carr took 40 sacks. The coaching staff should feel hesitant about fielding the same starting lineup from last year’s season opener. Daryl Williams is arguably the best offensive lineman available on the free-agent market, so it makes a lot of sense to bring him into camp. If the Raiders sign him, he would bump Eluemunor to a backup role.

Denzelle Good isn’t listed here because a new face could mean the end of his tenure in Vegas. Remember, he’s still recovering from a torn ACL on the wrong side of 30 years old.

Guard Lester Cotton Sr. is a sleeper to make the 53-man roster if the Raiders cut Good and don’t sign another offensive lineman.

Interior defensive line (5)

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  • Starters: Bilal Nichols, Johnathan Hankins, Matthew Butler
  • Backups: Tyler Lancaster, Neil Farrell Jr.

Matthew Butler beats Vernon Butler for a starting spot. The rookie fifth-rounder showed great burst on the interior with frequent penetration into the opponent’s backfield in his final collegiate term at Tennessee, logging five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.

Related: Previewing the Las Vegas Raiders defense

Tyler Lancaster crossed paths with Graham during the 2018 season with the Green Bay Packers. In that year, Graham served as a linebackers coach and run game coordinator.

Clelin Ferrell can also fit in with this group as a defensive end in sub-packages.

Edge-rushers (5)

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
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  • Starters: Chandler Jones, Maxx Crosby
  • Backups: Kyler Fackrell, Clelin Ferrell, Malcolm Koonce

Ferrell could see most of his snaps on the outside. With that said, Fackrell will likely emerge as the third-most productive edge-rusher behind Jones and Crosby. He played under Graham, who served as his linebackers coach in Green Bay (2018), and logged 10.5 sacks that year. In 2020, they reunited when the New York Giants signed the veteran pass-rusher.

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Koonce is a bit of a mystery. As a rookie, he logged sacks in back-to-back games against the Washington Commanders and Kansas City Chiefs. He may benefit from changes in the scheme, but he’s going to compete with Fackrell, who knows Graham’s system, and perhaps a former high draft pick in Ferrell for snaps.

Linebackers (5)

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders
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  • Starter: Denzel Perryman, Jayon Brown
  • Backups: Divine Deablo, Kenny Young, Darien Butler

Brown and Deablo should have a tight battle for the spot alongside Perryman, but the sixth-year veteran gets the nod over the second-year pro because of his experience. Furthermore, Brown has a solid resume with 385 tackles, 17 for loss, 9.5 sacks, 28 pass breakups and four interceptions (one pick-six) in 66 contests (39 starts) with the Tennessee Titans.

The undrafted rookie, Butler, is the surprise keeper in this unit. He worked himself into tip-top shape before his final year at Arizona State and looked like a much improved second-level defender in coverage, registering three interceptions and three pass breakups. Former Arizona State defensive coordinator and current Raiders linebackers coach Antonio Pierce knows how to get the best out of him.

Cornerbacks (6)

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
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  • Starters: Trayvon Mullen, Anthony Averett, Nate Hobbs (slot)
  • Backups: Rock Ya-Sin, Amik Robertson, Darius Phillips

Here’s another surprise. Averett beats Ya-Sin for the starting boundary spot opposite Mullen. He’s a potential X-factor in the secondary whose best years may be in front of him after a strong showing as a starter for the Baltimore Ravens in 2021 (11 pass breakups and three interceptions while allowing a 55.4 percent completion rate).

Robertson shocks his doubters and holds on to a roster spot, providing depth for the perimeter and slot cornerback spots. He’ll take advantage of getting a clean slate with the new coaching staff.

Safeties (4)

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos
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  • Starters: Johnathan Abram, Trevon Moehrig
  • Backups: Duron Harmon, Tyree Gillespie

Abram will lock down a starting safety position over Harmon and Gillespie, though the pecking order could change based on the opponent. The former first-rounder could play fewer snaps as the season progresses if he continues to struggle in pass coverage.

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Harmon may see the field in big nickel looks with three safeties on the field anyway. Gillespie rounds out the group as an unknown commodity who only played 13 defensive snaps in his 2021 rookie term.

Special Teams (3)

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
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  • Kicker: Daniel Carlson
  • Punter: AJ Cole
  • Long snapper: Trent Sieg

No changes within this group. This trio has played together for three consecutive campaigns, and they’ll head into a fourth term as one of the league’s top special teams units. Cole earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last season. Carlson led the league in made field goals, converting on 40 out of 43 attempts.

College football statistics are provided by cfbstats.com.

Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.