As the Las Vegas Raiders work to find the right mix on the offensive line, one under-the-radar name to keep an eye on is Lester Cotton.
Cotton worked with the first unit some during the OTA sessions and during the minicamp and continued in the early days of training camp. Then, Monday, Denzelle Good surprisingly retired, leaving Cotton with a real chance to start in the regular season.
New Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels and his staff have an open mind when it comes to the staring five offensive linemen. Both guard spots and maybe right tackle are still open for competition. McDaniels has started multiple times he’s simply looking for right mix.
While Cotton may be a current favorite to start with Good retired, he’s competing with John Simpson and third-round pick Dylan Parham at guard. Las Vegas can also add at the spot when teams cut players next month. But if Cotton plays well in training camp and in the preseason, he could potentially steal a starting spot or earn a key rotational role.
It would be ironic if Cotton, 26, finally broke through with the Raiders after the Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock era ended.
The previous regime liked Cotton enough to keep him around the program for three seasons after he was signed as an undrafted free agent from Alabama, which, of course, was a favorite college program Gruden and Mayock liked to poach from.
Cotton played in one game in 2019 and four games in 2021. He hasn’t started an NFL game, but if the offseason program was any indication, perhaps Cotton will take advantage of this opportunity under the new Las Vegas brass.