First Raiders depth chart of 2012

Posted on August 7, 2012

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The Oakland Raiders have released their first “unofficial” depth chart of the 2012 season. So let’s take a look at each position and see what I think of the depth chart as well as who I think will still be here after final cuts.

Offense

QB: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor, Kyle Newhall-Caballero

Carson Palmer will be the unquestioned starter, just as Matt Leinart will be the back-up and I really don’t think anyone sees Kyle Newhall-Caballero making the team. The interesting player in this group Terrelle Pryor how he progresses during camp, and plays during the preseason will really give some early signs to the Raiders future and possibly how they might approach next years draft (Matt Barkley anyone!).

RB: Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson, Lonyae Miller

In 6 games before getting injured last season Darren McFadden was on his way to a nice season rushing: 111 ATT 600 YDS 4TD.

If the Raiders want to be successful this season they need not only Darren McFadden but this whole group to be healthy. McFadden is the best player on this team and when healthy arguably the best RB in the league. Taiwan Jones is the speedster of the group and don’t let his size fool you he enjoys running in between the tackles just as much as fans enjoy seeing him hit the edge and turn it up field. Mike Goodson came over from Carolina in the OL Bruce Campbell and while he is not the punishing big back that Michael Bush (signed with Chicago as a free agent) was, he is more then capable of being a quality back-up. Goodson has good size and above average speed but what really sets him apart from the others is his elusiveness he doesn’t just make guys miss in the open field but he also slips out of tackles. Along with health ball protection is a concern for all three. Many expect the Raiders to bring an RB or two in as teams start to cut players so we will see. Lonyae Miller an undrafted player who spent time with the Dallas Cowboys last season has shown exceptional skills as a blocking back.

FB: Marcel Reece, Owen Schmitt, Manase Tonga, Rashawn Jackson

Marcel Reece is is probably the most talented and underrated FB in the league, he has really good speed and being a former college WR has good hands and is a good route runner. He has greatly improved as a lead blocker expect to see him involved in the offense a lot this season. One of the under the radar preseason battles will be for back-up FB between Owen Schmitt and Manase Tonga. Both are capable of making the team but it’s unlikely that the raiders keep three FB most teams don’t even go with one. I give the slight advantage to Schmitt because of his size and hands.

WR1: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eddie McGee, Juron Criner, Derek Carrier, Brandon Carswell, Thomas Mayo

WR2: Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Travionte Session, Duke Calhoun, DeAundre Muhammad

The Raiders WRs are arguable the fastest in the league, and last year they started to show they can catch the ball pretty well too. Darrius Heyward-Bey made a tremendous jump last season and should be the Raiders number one. He can go deep on streak and post routes as well as catch the quick screen and turn it up field. Denarius Moore “The play-maker” I mean the player who makes plays became a crowd favorite with spectacular plays through out the season but the Raiders need him to be more consistent this season. Last year he would get his catches in bunches in certain games, this year the Raiders are hoping he gets his catches in bunches on drives throughout the season. Jacoby Ford is electric and his speed and size make him a perfect fit as the number 3 WR working in the slot, and be utilized as KR where he is easily becoming one if not the best in the league. If you have heard any reporter who has seen the Raiders either in OTA’s or early in training camp you already know that rookies Juron Criner (5th round draft pick) and Rod Streater (undrafted) are really impressing and should make the team battling for that 4th WR spot. Criner is a big target with good hands, while Streater has shown the ability to really get behind coverage and both fight for the ball in traffic. Eddie McGee is my sleep pick to make the team along with the 5 WR I already mentioned, he was on the practice squad last year and was working out with Carson Palmer during the off season and Palmer really likes his skill set so don’t be surprised if he’s on the roster as well. Derek Carrier, Duke Calhoun could end up on the practice squad, the rest will have a hard time cracking the WR rotation but could make the team if they perform on special teams.

TE: Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry, Kyle Efaw, Tory Humphrey

TE is probably the one position the “experts” will say is the weakest on the offensive side of the ball. However, I like this group they might not have the same resume as other’s in the league but I think as a group they are better then people see them. Brandon Myers has been the 2nd TE behind Zach Miller and Kevin Boss the past few season and mainly been a blocking TE but he has shown flashes of being able to release in the flat make the catch and get up field in his time in Oakland. Richard Gordon is probably the best blocker of the group and with his size I expect him to see more plays and stay in to protect more as Myers and David Ausberry rotate in and out. Ausberry the former college WR has a big body runs well for a guy his size, expect to see him contribute more this season with a year under his belt at the TE position.

LT: Jared Veldheer, Zach Hurd, Ed Wang

Jared Veldheer had a Pro Bowl worthy season last year after struggling at LT his rookie season, I think this is the one spot of the o-line that they feel the most comfortable with and being that he protects Palmer’s blindside, you have to love that. The only attention the LT position will be getting at camp is for the back up position, it really can go either way right now between Zach Hurd and Ed Wang, I’ll save my decision till after I have seen them in game action.

LG: Cooper Carlisle, Tony Bergstrom, Nick Howell

Tony Bergstorm will always remembered as being the first draft pick of the Post Al Davis Era.

Cooper Carlisle is the veteran but he’s making the transition from the right side of the line to the left side (If you don’t think that is a hard transition just think about everything you do on a daily basis with your strong hand/foot and do use your weaker hand/foot the whole day).  Tony Bergstrom is the first pick of the new Era in Oakland and is the future he’s been getting time at both G positions so you have to believe he’ll be on the team as the first backup to both spots.

C: Stefen Wisniewski, Alex Parsons, Colin Miller

Stefen Wisniewski was arguably the Raiders best offensive lineman last year. However, after missing OTA’s recovering from shoulder surgery, Head Coach Dennis Allen said he needs to see more consistency out of the second year player. Wisniewski his making the transition back to C after spending most of his rookie season at LG. Alex Parsons spent a lot of time with the 1st team offense during OTA’s and it’s likely he’ll be on the 53-man roster at the end of preseason.

RG: Mike Brisiel, Lucas Nix, Kevin Haslam

Mike Brisiel will be the starting RG he has experience in this system coming from Houston where he started 13 games for the Texans last season.  Lucas Nix could make the roster if the Raiders decided to keep 9 OL the final linemen spot will be  between him, Hurd, Wang.

RT: Khalif Barnes, Joe Barksdale, Dan Knapp

Khalif Barnes is one of the more interesting players, off the field and in the locker room people love him, especially the media. On the field he sometimes makes the coaches and fans pull their hair out. He has a lot of promise (he’s even shown flashes of being a threat in the passing game) you’d just like him cut down on the knucklehead penalties. At 6-5 and 325 lbs Joe Barksdale is a big strong guy, if he can pick up the zone-blocking scheme I wouldn’t be surprised if he is starting at some point this season.

Defense

RE: Matt Shaughnessy, David Tollefson, Mason Brodine, Wayne Dorsey

I believe Matt Shaughnessy is in line to have a beak out season this year for the Raiders after missing most of last year because of a shoulder surgery. He’s a smart athletic player who can stop the run from the edge, attack the QB and even drop back into coverage. David Tollefson has ties with new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie (he was drafted by Green Bay in 2006 when McKenzie was there), and the Raiders (was on the practice squad in 2007). He is a 2-time Superbowl winner and brings veteran leadership, winning, and provides depth on the line. Mason Brodine has an outside chance of making the final roster as he also has spent time with the Raiders.

DT: Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant, Christo Bilukidi

Richard Seymour is well Richard Seymour. The Raiders need to keep him healthy and fresh throughout the season. He is no longer the defensive game changer he once was but he can still be extremely productive especially if Shaughnessy and (LE) Lamarr Houston become more dominant on d-line. Desmond Bryant is capable back DT he can rotate in and out and even slide out on to either edge in pinch. Christo Bilukidi could be the 8th man in the defensive linemen rotation in a battle between him, Jamie Cumbie and Mason Brodine. Bilukidi and Cumbie have to be the favorites to land the spot because they play in the middle.

NT: Tommy Kelly, Jamie Cumbie, Dominique Hamilton

Tommy Kelly is not sutied to be NT” so many “experts” say but I disagree while he may not be the prototypical size for a NT he does get after the QB and provide a good push up the middle. Early on I still think we will see more Seymour at NT in 3-4 fronts then Kelly if he’s healthy but I wouldn’t be surprised if to see Kelly have another good year regardless if its in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Like I said earlier Jamie Cumbie will be battling to crack the d-line rotation and one way he could do that is if he can show he can be a NT and if he can show he can stop the run.

LE: Lamarr Houston, Jack Crawford, Hall Davis

After tallying 5 sacks as rookie, Lamarr Houston only recorded 1 sack in his second year. He did play in all 16 games again and recorded 51 tackles.

Lamarr Houston looked like a draft day steal his rookie season, he  seemed to regress a little last season even though he improved statistically he still didn’t seem to have the impact he had his rookie season. A lot of eyes will be on him this season to see who he really is, I think he is one of the more versatile linemen he can play inside, outside, stop the run and get after the QB, he has a good motor. Houston is a player that could very well benefit in this multiple defensive look scheme the Raiders are implementing this season. Rookie Jack Crawford could be a sack specialist for the raiders providing a above average pass rush from the edge and allowing Houston to lineup different spots among the line.

WLB: Miles Burris, Chad Kilgore, Mario Kurn

Aaron Curry will be the starter once healthy, there is a little bit of a concern that he has missed so much time with this knee injury especially with all the multiple looks the defense will show this season. Then again Curry did end up starting and playing in a game only a few days after being traded to the Raiders last season so you know he is smart and a quick learner. Miles Burris shows great promise as tackling machine, he flies to the ball and is always around it at the end of whistle.  He’s still learning but I still expect him to contribute all season long.

MLB: Rolando McClain, Travis Goethel, Nathan Stupar

It’s still a wait and see game with what will happen to Rolando McClain, but one has to believe this is a make or break season for him in Oakland.  McClain was a can’t miss player coming out of college, yet he really has not been consistent in his tenure with the Raiders pair that with the off the field issues and well it might be a short leash for him. I’m actually expecting a lot from Travis Goethel who missed majority of his first two season due to injury, he showed great promise as a tackler before the injuries, a little concern if he can be the man in the middle to lead the defense however. Nathan Stupar will be a very good rookie on can have an impact on special teams will being able to rotate in every now and then on defense.

SLB: Philip Wheeler, Carl Ihenacho, Kaelin Burnett

Expectations on Philip Wheeler will be high as he is replacing sack machine Kamerion Wimbley, Wheeler isn’t known as a sack specialist but that is more because of the system he was in Indianapolis then because of his ability. One thing is for sure about Wheeler is that his greatest strength was the Raiders biggest weakness last year “Tackling”. The depth at SLB will be a concern for the Raiders as neither Carl Ihenacho or Kaelin Burnett have any NFL experience. Nathan Stupar or Mario Kurn could possibly an option as a back-up SLB as well.

RCB: Shawntae Spencer, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Bryan McCann, Terrail Lambert

DeMarcus Van Dyke recorded 13 tackles, 1INT in 14 games last season. DVD highlights should be more of a common thing in Oakland this season.

Shawntae Spencer was brought in to be the number 1 CB but he missed practically all of last season due to injury and his best years are most likely behind him. Also early reports from training camp are that he is getting beat consistently, although he is a veteran so well see where he is 3 weeks from now. DeMarcus Van Dyke is probably the most improved player on the Raiders team this year and arguable the most impressive CB so far in camp. Everyone knows that DVD can run with just about every one in the league but he has come into camp shown a vast improvement in making plays on the ball. Add the muscle and confidence he has added during the off season and don’t be surprised if you see him starting for the Raiders opening night. Bryan McCann is a strong candidate to make the roster because he provides depth and is also a threat in the return game.

LCB: Ron Bartell, Chimdi Chekwa, Pat Lee, Conroy Black

Just like Spencer, Ron Bartell miss practically all of last season with an injury and was brought in to be a starter because of his experience. I’ll have to see him in game action and see if there is any lingering effects from the neck injury he suffered last season before deciding if he makes the team. Chimdi Chekwa really showed flashes last season as a cover corner and was a good tackler. Pat Lee and Conroy Black could also make the team to provide depth as both have the ability to make plays on the ball, something that should happen frequently for this defense.

FS: Michael Huff, Matt Giordano, Brandon Underwood, Chaz Powell

Michael Huff has stated that he is really excited to play in this defense, because it will not only give him but the rest of the defense a chance to make plays. As we have seen Huff has big time ball hawking and play making skills, this defense should really allow him to be a big-time difference maker. Matt Giordano has ties to coach Allen and has shown he is a capable at the FS position with Huff lineup all over the field Giordano will see plenty of time in the defensive backfield. Brandon Underwood could provide depth and also be standout on special teams.

SS: Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell, Curtis Taylor, Aaron Henry

Tyvon Branch has arguably been the Raiders best defensive players that past two seasons. He has exceptional speed and is a good tackler and big-time hitter, he can tackle in open space and makes plays at the line of scrimmage and behind it. Mike Mitchell could take up more of hybrid safety/linebacker role this year as he is heavy hitter and has shown that he can match up very well one-on-one with practically any TE in the league.

Special Teams

P: Marquette King

Marquette King has been exceptionally impressive at camp especially with Shane Lechler being sidelined with a knee injury. Unless Lechler’s injury is more serious then we know I really don’t see the Raiders keeping to punters even though King has the chance to be really really good.

K: Sebastian Janikowski, Eddy Carmona

Sebastian Janikowski scored 129 points on 31 of 35 field goals last season including a record tying 63 yard field in Denver.

Sebastian Janikowski had his best season last year and still has one of the most deadliest legs in the league. Most teams need to get to about the 30 yard line to be in scoring position. With Janikowski the Raiders just have to get to the 45 yard line to have a decent shot at points.

H: Marquette King, Matt Leinart

While King has shown he has a very good leg, I don’t believe he has the arm that Lechler has to give the Raiders options in the special teams game like they had last year. So if Lechler misses times I expect Leinart to be the holder. I would like to see Pryor get a shot at being the holder just because of the options he could provide.

LS: Jon Condo

Really there is no competition here it’s Jon Condo all the way, he’s a great long snapper and also great in getting down the field in punt coverage.

KR: Jacoby Ford, Taiwan Jones, Bryan McCann DeAundre Muhammad, Derek Carrier 

In 24 games Jacoby Ford has 4 TDs in 64 returns. That is a TD every 16 returns.

Jacoby Ford has the ability to take every kick to the house and usually does so as long as he’s healthy it’s his job. If Ford does get hit by the injury bug Jones and McCann are above average returners who can still get good returns.

PR: Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Bryan McCann, Juron Crincer, DeAundre Muhammad

Not really sure how I think Ford should be the one returning punts I like Moore as the punt returner because of his shiftyness and his size is a little bit more suited to take hits from gunners and still secure the ball.

Active/Physically Unable to Perform: Aaron Curry (LB)
Active/Non-Football Injury: Shane Lechler (P)

Things can change with strong or weak preseason play, come back later this month and see how I predict the Raiders and every other team will do in my NFL Season Preview.

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Posted in: NFL