The past week has been a busy one for the Oakland Raiders as they cut down their roster from 90 to 53 players. While they saw a lot of quality players leave the organization, they were able to keep some of them on their practice squad.
While some may ignore the practice squad’s importance, it’s worth noting that guys like Dallin Leavitt — who made this season’s 53-man roster — cut his teeth here just one year ago.
So, here’s a quick breakdown of the 10 guys the Raiders signed, some of which were familiar faces and others that were not:
Marcell Ateman (WR)
Ateman was the team’s seventh-round pick in 2018 and played well in limited opportunities with the Raiders last year. I’m not sure how much of a future he has in the league (I’m sure the team wishes this spot had gone to Keelan Doss), but he provides nice organizational depth.
Quinton Bell (DE)
This year’s seventh-round pick, Bell was a project from Day 1 (he’s a converted receiver) and was a guy always destined for the practice squad. I’ll be excited to check back in on him in a year to see if he can develop into an NFL player.
Lester Cotton Sr. (OL)
An undrafted free agent from Alabama, Cotton is organizational depth. Give him a year with Tom Cable and maybe they can shape him into the type of guard they’d like to keep around long-term.
Damarea Crockett (RB)
Crockett is new to the organization after being cut by the Houston Texans. He was an UDFA out of Missouri. It’s not a great sign that he couldn’t catch on with a team whose starting running back is out for the year, but who knows.
Rico Gafford (WR)
One of the bright spots offensively this preseason, Gafford can absolutely fly. This guy is an NFL receiver, I just don’t know if he ever gets a shot in Oakland. He’s a nice compliment to Ateman as they’re radically different types of receivers.
Dylan Mabin (CB)
Mabin is a rookie out of Fordham and was signed by the Raiders as an UDFA. He’s got the size you want in a corner (6’0″) and excelled on special teams in college — but clearly is still a work in progress as he was never seriously considered for a roster spot.
Nick Nelson (CB)
A fourth-round selection a year ago, I’m guessing head coach Jon Gruden’s feelings about Nelson are bittersweet. On one hand, he has been a massive disappointment — on the other, they were able to get him onto the practice squad (not really surprising given his performance). Maybe his recovery from a knee injury is taking longer than expected and he’ll be able to contribute by season’s end? That’s the hope.
Justin Phillips (LB)
Was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an UDFA after playing for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State. He was believed to be a seventh-round / UDFA type of guy heading into the draft, partly due to some concerns about a sprained knee sustained after the season.
Anthony Rush (DT)
The gem of the practice squad, some thought Rush might not make it through waivers after being cut. Thankfully, he did, and the Raiders are hoping that a year of coaching and conditioning will allow him to build upon the incredibly impressive preseason he just had.
Eric Saubert (TE)
Saubert is the third newcomer to this group and was selected in the fifth round in 2017 by the Falcons. He actually played in 16 games for the Falcons last season but has just five career catches. It’s a bit surprising to see the Raiders go outside the organization for a practice squad tight end given the depth they had in training camp, but maybe this was a guy they’ve had their eye on for a couple of years.