Tuesday afternoon was the deadline for each NFL team leaguewide to trim their roster from 90 players to 85. Raider Nation waited patiently all day for an update on who the team will part with, but it never came – until the deadline was mere minutes away. Then, the Las Vegas Raiders finally announced which players were first to get the axe.
These players were OT Tyrone Wheatley Jr., CB Nate Brooks, DT Vernon Butler, EDGE Gerri Green, and surprise cut victim Demarcus Robinson.
While the first four aren’t exactly shocking, Robinson is truly a surprise. It seemed as if the former Chiefs’ wideout had a top-5 receiver spot locked, but the Raiders’ front office decided to go in a different direction.
Now, it is important to note that Robinson wasn’t necessarily cut before any other wideout because he performed the worst. Rather, Las Vegas wanted to give the veteran a head start at getting in sync with a new team before the ’22 season kicks off. Either way, Robinson is cut, and the entire landscape of the receiver unit changes for the Raiders.
Two players in particular benefitted the most from the first waive of cuts in Las Vegas, and those are the two we’re going to discuss.
2 Raiders in position to make the 53-man after the first wave of cuts in Las Vegas
2. D.J. Turner
Turner has had a great camp up to this point, and was the best player on the field during Sunday’s battle against the Minnesota Vikings.
In the Raiders’ second preseason game of the season, Turner recorded 58 yards and a touchdown through the air. The 25-year-old was also magnificent on special teams, returning one punt for 26 yards.
The touchdown he was able to put on the board was his most impressive play of the night. On a 3rd down, quarterback Nick Mullens found Turner deep enough for a first, but the receiver wasn’t thinking first down yardage – he was thinking touchdown. At the play’s end, Turner managed to get into the end zone with a 35 yard completion.
.@_DJTurner1 turned on the jets ‼️#MINvsLV | Live on FOX and NFL+ pic.twitter.com/2Vvj07Kvp0
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) August 14, 2022
Even with that, it seemed almost impossible for Turner to make the team. This wasn’t a knack on Turner, but rather due to him being behind Adams, Renfrow, Cole, Hollins and Demarcus Robinson. Well, fortunately for the receiver, Robinson was a cut victim during the Raiders’ first roster cuts this preseason.
To say the least, Turner’s chances of making the 53-man roster have absolutely skyrocketed.
Turner spent last season on the Raiders’ practice squad after being cut during the 53-man trim. So far, through his 2 preseason contests in ’22, the Raiders’ receiver has earned a grade of 70.3 via Pro Football Focus. If he keeps it up, chances are high Turner will make the final roster this year.
1. Tyron Johnson
Keeping it at the same position, Tyron Johnson is the second of two players who are greatly impacted by the Raiders’ first wave of preseason cuts.
With Robinson on the roster, it seemed likely both Turner and Johnson were behind him. Being behind Robinson meant there were four other receivers the pair was also underneath. Just like with Turner, now that Robinson is out of the picture everything changes.
A mere handful of days ago it seemed probable both Turner and Johnson were on the outside looking in when it came to the 53-man. Now, it’s practically a given that one of the two will make the final roster in Las Vegas.
Johnson, or T-Billy, is a player who Josh McDaniels in particular loves. McDaniels made that clear last month when asked about T-Billy.
“I’m really proud of him. He’s prepared every day and he knows what his assignments are. He has been able to really connect with the quarterbacks and different things. He works hard in practice. He takes care of his body. He’s now becoming that guy that is dependable from day-to-day and that’s a big word for us.”
There’s a lot to like about Johnson. For one, he brings a much needed speed factor to the rather slow Raiders’ receiving core. The average 40-time for an NFL receiver (through the past five-years of NFL combine data) is 4.48. Las Vegas has just one receiver with a faster time than that number. The receiver? Tyron Johnon.
T-Billy has had his highs through the preseason, but also his lows. During the league’s annual Hall of Fame game, Tyron Johnson had a deep ball delivered to him on time. Unfortunately for the speedster, he couldn’t hold on and recorded an ugly drop.
Against the Vikings on Sunday, T-Billy logged 7 yards on one catch. PFF has given the 26-year-old a grade of 50.8 through this year’s preseason.
There’s a wide receiver spot up for grabs, and it’s practically guaranteed that either Turner or Johnson earns the job. However, there’s an alternate path here – McDaniels thinks too highly of these young men to let either walk. In this situation, the Raiders would open up the ’22 season with six receivers on the roster.
While McDaniels isn’t known to house six receivers, it has happened before, although you’d have to go all the way back to 2014. Nonetheless, the Raiders’ head coach is quite fond of both of these receivers, and the chances are very real both make it through the final roster cuts.