2018 Oakland Raiders starters, 53-man roster, schedule prediction

We're about to find out if the Jon Gruden-Derek Carr pairing will work. Jeff Chiu/AP

The Oakland Raiders cut their roster to 53 players Saturday. Here’s what things look like:

QUARTERBACK (2): Derek Carr, AJ McCarron

As obvious as Jon Gruden’s dislike for the Raiders’ backup QB situation was, Oakland jettisoning both EJ Manuel and Connor Cook and trading a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for AJ McCarron was just as surprising, given his lack of experience with Gruden.

RUNNING BACK (4): Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington

The Raiders were able to stash undrafted rookie Chris Warren III on injured reserve, rather than subject him to waivers after he led the NFL in preseason rushing with 292 yards on 58 carries (5.0 yards per carry average). Washington, though, is coming back from a scope surgery on a knee so might Oakland be a bit light at the position to start the season?

FULLBACK(1): Keith Smith

Smith is the prototypical smash-mouth fullback Gruden loves.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Dwayne Harris, Brandon LaFell, Keon Hatcher

The Raiders simply could not trust Martavis Bryant after giving up a third-round pick for him and with a potential NFL-mandated suspension looming. Hatcher made the team with a sterling preseason finale performance with three TD catches at Seattle.

TIGHT END (3): Jared Cook, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier

Introducing Derek Carr’s security blankets.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Kolton Miller, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn, Jon Feliciano, Brandon Parker, T.J. Clemmings, Justin Murray

No real surprises here, other than versatility is king when it comes to the extra linemen as Feliciano can play center and guard. Meanwhile, Parker could be the team’s right tackle of the future.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Tank Carradine, P.J. Hall, Justin Ellis, Bruce Irvin, Maurice Hurst, Frostee Rucker, Arden Key, Brian Price, Fadol Brown

Remember when the Raiders drafted Hall, Hurst and Key to help out Khalil Mack in the pass rush? That was some $90 million guaranteed ago, a price too steep for the Raiders, who traded him to the Bears, who gave him that exact record-for-a-defensive player deal. The spotlight is on the rookie trio, as well as Irvin, to wreak havoc in Mack’s place. It’s a tall order.

LINEBACKER (7): Emmanuel Lamur, Derrick Johnson, Tahir Whitehead, Shilique Calhoun, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow, Kyle Wilber.

Sure, Lee began his rookie season as the starting middle linebacker, but he is even better now learning at the knee of Johnson. Whitehead and Lamur complete the renovation in the unit, which should be faster and more physical than the year prior. Calhoun looks like a new player.

SECONDARY (9): Rashaan Melvin, Gareon Conley, Marcus Gilchrist, Karl Joseph, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Leon Hall, Nick Nelson, Erik Harris, Reggie Nelson.

As expected, Daryl Worley was slapped with a four-game suspension by the NFL to start the season, so this will change when he serves his time. He is expected to appeal, which would shorten the length. Don’t be surprised if Rodgers-Cromartie starts at a corner and Harris supplants Joseph at strong safety.

SPECIALIST (3): K Mike Nugent, P Johnny Townsend, LS Andrew DePaola

A groin injury landed UDFA licker Eddy Piñeiro on Injured Reserve and Nugent, the veteran camp leg, has been thrust into the role.