Undrafted free agent guard Lester Cotton could end up claiming a starting spot in the Raiders offensive line.
After a putrid 2018 season, the Raiders decided not to be that dreadful version of themselves anymore and went out of their way to boost up their wide receiver corps, secondary and defensive line. They even signed left tackle Trent Brown to protect quarterback Derek Carr. One position they didn’t address through the draft nor free agency was left guard. Incumbent Denzelle Good shouldn’t feel so good about himself though, as undrafted free agent guard Lester Cotton could shock Oakland and start at left guard.
Surprising? Not so much if we think of all the things going Cotton’s way. He played for Alabama and constantly faced elite competition, he wasn’t by any means the best offensive player in his line, but more often than not, he got the job done. He has really strong arms and once he locks into his assignment, he won’t let go and finish his block. Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable isn’t known for developing players, but if he can help Cotton improve his hand placement, he could be counted on to face NFL competition.
Good is the starter at left guard after signing a one-year extension worth $1.8 million, nothing that indicates he will be a core player for years to come, but rather a low level backup this upcoming season. Before he re-signed with Oakland, he hadn’t done much of note. He joined the Raiders in 2018, started three games and has started 23 in his four-year career. Unless Oakland signs free agent Richie Incognito, the job is Good’s to lose and Cotton’s to earn.
Of course there’s a reason why Cotton went undrafted and that’s because he struggles against quick first step defensive linemen, has difficulties reaching the second level and his hand placement was sloppy at times. For him to have a shot at a roster spot and a starting gig, he must fix these issues.
Cotton will have to pave his way, but if he’s going to go the whole nine yards, he might as well aim for the starting left guard job.