Cutdown day is a brutal one for many NFL players. Teams go from the permitted 90-man roster down to the 53-man version mandated for the regular season. That means 1,184 players will be free agents when teams meet the required numbers. The NFL Players Association says the average career in the league is 3.3 years. It is that war of attrition that either defines or breaks athletes trying to make an NFL squad. Many cannot partake in an arduous journey. It is not different for the Oakland Raiders. The team has longshots aplenty, from undrafted free agents to veterans. Let us look at a trio of neophytes who have a fighting chance to make the 53-man roster:
The undrafted kicker from Florida has two things going for him. First, he has an accurate and powerful leg. Second, the Raiders drafted his teammate, Johnny Townsend, who was not only the Gators’ punter, but also the holder on Pineiro’s field goals.
Giorgio Tavecchio, an undrafted free agent himself, is the incumbent at the spot.
“He and Tavecchio are going to have a great battle in training camp, but when you go back to the holder, the cool thing is we do have Johnny Townsend who’s an experience holder, and has a lot of experience holding for Piñeiro, which I think is going to help him tremendously,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said during an exclusive conference call with season ticket holders.
The undrafted linebacker from Penn State manned the middle of the Nittany Lions defense. He exhibits an impressive willingness to not only take on blockers, but also win and make the tackle. He is a rugged, old school hard-nosed Mike in an age where the position has evolved into a coverage man. However, the Raiders are lacking linebackers who possess a boar hunter attitude and Cabinda has that in spades.
While he is limited in man coverage, his eagerness to engage with blockers could lead to a transition from linebacker to fullback down the road. Plus, Cabinda possesses the hunger to make a roster.
Gruden loves himself power backs. He has one in Marshawn Lynch, but “Beast Mode” is 32 years old. The backup spot sees a bevy of smaller scatback types duking it out (Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington). To say Warren provides a different type of tailback (6-foot-2, 247 pounds) is an understatement. He is a running back with a linebacker’s physique. He played the hybrid tailback/fullback role for the Longhorns and flashed lead blocker capabilities. Warren would have to slim down and speed up if he were solely a halfback.