Raiders' 53-man roster projection includes four undrafted free agents

Johnny Holton has proved himself catching passes this preseason. Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Derek Carr, Matt McGloin, Connor Cook

The only drama here would have come had Cook outplayed McGloin this preseason, which would have raised the question: If Cook is Carr’s backup, do the Raiders really need three QBs? That did not happen, though.

RUNNING BACKS (4): Latavius Murray, Taiwan Jones, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard

Sure, Washington, a fifth-round draft pick, and Richard, an undrafted rookie, may take third-down snaps from Murray, but might the Mighty Mites also squeeze Jones out of a roster spot. Probably not with four-time Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece still needing to serve a three-game suspension, but keep that in mind.

FULLBACKS (1): Jamize Olawale

Reece should join Olawale in Week 4 at Baltimore.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton

Holton, an undrafted rookie, showed just enough flash and raw potential to beat out a slew of other undrafted free agents for the fifth receiver spot. Yes, even blueblood Max McCaffrey.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Clive Walford, Lee Smith, Mychal Rivera

Wait, where’s Gabe Holmes, you ask? He should take up residence on injured reserve. Whether that’s short-term IR or a season-ending deal remains to be seen.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Menelik Watson, Vadal Alexander, Jon Feliciano, Matt McCants, Austin Howard

Watson apparently has beaten out Howard at right tackle, but McCants also can play tackle, while seventh-round draft choice Alexander has enough raw potential to keep around and Feliciano is Hudson’s backup at center. There is depth and versatility here. But can they establish a dominant run game?

DEFENSIVE LINE (8): Khalil Mack, Jihad Ward, Justin Ellis, Mario Edwards Jr., Dan Williams, Denico Autry, Darius Latham, Stacy McGee

Williams, apparently out of the doghouse, regained his starting defensive-tackle spot, next to nose tackle Ellis, in the all-important third preseason game, while rookie Ward bumped out to start at the injured Edwards’ right-end slot in a base 3-4 alignment. McGee over Leon Orr may be an upset in the eyes of some and Latham is the third UDFA projected to make it.

LINEBACKERS (7): Bruce Irvin, Ben Heeney, Malcolm Smith, Shilique Calhoun, Daren Bates, Cory James, James Cowser

James, a sixth-round draft pick, received a few snaps at middle linebacker with the first-team defense in Week 3, while Cowser, the fourth undrafted free agent projected to make the initial 53-man roster, did enough in camp to warrant a spot. But what happens if/when Aldon Smith returns from his yearlong suspension in November?

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10): Sean Smith, David Amerson, DJ Hayden, Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph, Nate Allen, TJ Carrie, Dewey McDonald, Keith McGill, Brynden Trawick

McGill helps himself in that he can play both safety and cornerback, while Trawick supported his cause with strong special-teams play and by being a true corner. This rebuilt position group may be the hardest to decipher.

SPECIALISTS (3): K Sebastian Janikowski, P Marquette King, LS Jon Condo

Remember when King, in his first year replacing Shane Lechler as Oakland’s punter and Janikowski’s holder, brought the kicker some balloons into the Raiders locker room to celebrate a milestone in 2013? Neither does Janikowski.