The Raiders needed to get the roster trimmed down to 75 players by 1:00 this afternoon, and they have. Here’s the list of players waived or moved to the PUP list:
No real surprises here, unfortunately. I would have liked to see Juron Criner squeak by, if only because he has a knack for making the difficult catches. But he also has a knack for missing the routine ones, running poor routes, and seems to have lost some of his speed.
DJ Hayden has to be a much bigger concern, and factor much more into this management team’s ability to identify and develop talent. Hayden’s history so far has been one of being injury-prone, punctuated by episodes of ineffectiveness when he actually makes it on the field (his game-saving INT at Houston being the lone exception).
Every draft, and every player in it, is a roll of the dice, no doubt. Nobody bats 1.000, we all know it. But after a decade of losing, with (at the time) another year of “deconstruction” and cap purges to come, it was vital that their top picks be solid, reliable, predictable. Safe.
It was clear that the Raiders’ #3 pick would be used defensively, and while the secondary was the most glaring need on defense, really there were holes everywhere to be filled. They could have held the pick and grabbed Barkevious Mingo or Dion Jordan. They could have traded down a few spots and still gotten Sheldon Richardson or Dee Milliner. Jarvis Jones. Hell, they could have traded way down in the first round, grabbed an offensive weapon like Cordarelle Patterson, and gotten even more 2nd and 3rd round picks to use on defense.
Instead, they took a huge gamble, when they weren’t in a position to do so. Good teams can afford to whiff on a first-round pick; if the Patriots or Packers get a bust, oh well. They might finish with one or two fewer wins than they would have otherwise.
But teams that are rebuilding need their main picks to become key contributors, and right away. They can’t afford to take risks with a #3 pick, or really the first three or four rounds.
Of the first four rounds, Hayden has been injured more often than not, Watson has been injured and may or may not be the starting RT this season, and Tyler Wilson was released twice by the team, the second time going to the Titans, who have since released him as well. (He is now with the Bengals.) Only 3rd-rounder Sio Moore has lived up to his potential so far. All four 6th-rounders, and 7th-rounder Brice Butler, show some potential here and there, but none of them are game-changers, and Nick Kasa is out for the season with an ACL injury. Injuries aren’t anyone’s fault, but again, in a draft of 10 players, you need more than one of them to contribute significantly, when your team is on a decade-plus losing streak.
There are some improvements — even the mediocre-armed Schaub is still an upgrade over any QB they’ve had since Palmer, and both lines look improved somewhat. If MJD can stay healthy and Latavius Murray finds a role, they might have enough of a running game to take some of the heat off the passing game. If the receivers can cure their drops and run their routes, if the QB (regardless of whom) doesn’t hang them out). If, if, if.
The final roster has to be down to 53 by August 30, and based on how the team fares against Seattle this Thursday, it would not be surprising to see at least one more high-profile name miss the cut. Let’s hope they can start pulling this together.