Everybody loves an underdog story. It is one of the most classic storylines in entertainment and literature. Where the protagonist must overcome overwhelming odds to be victorious. My favorite underdog story would definitely be the Rebellion defeating the Empire in Star Wars. In the NFL, it can come in many different forms. The most common of course, is a team projected to face defeat rising against the odds to win. Another could be a player initially not seen as a top prospect, like an undrafted free agent, outperforming the competition to earn a roster spot. One player on the Green Bay Packers facing these odds is Wide Receiver, Jeff Cotton.

In Cotton’s short NFL career, he has worn the uniform of four different teams. Cotton spent his college career at Idaho before he was signed as an Undrafted Free Agent by the Los Angeles Chargers following the 2020 NFL Draft. He was waived by the Chargers after training camp and signed to their practice squad. Seeing no regular season action, after the 2020 season, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, he was again waived following camp and signed to the practice squad. This time around Cotton received an elevation to the active roster to make his NFL debut on January 2nd, 2022. But after camp the following summer, he was again waived. After this stint, Cotton was signed to the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals but was released off the practice squad six days later. He went unemployed for two months until the Green Bay Packers signed him to their practice squad on November 9th, 2022.

Earning his roster spot

Hopefully Jeff Cotton’s fourth team will be the one he finally earns a roster spot. So far, during OTA’s he is definitely turning heads. He seems to have a nice connection already with rookie Quarterback Sean Clifford. So far, in the practices open to the media two connections between Clifford and Cotton have resulted in touchdowns. One was a nice 8-yard TD catch on fourth down in the 2-minute drill. Cotton made the catch over cornerback Tyrell Ford and whipped the offense into a frenzy. If there’s a Quarterback to latch on to if you’re not going to see time with the starters, it’s definitely the rookie QB Clifford pushing to earn the backup spot.

He also had another TD catch from Clifford where he toe-tapped in the corner of the endzone to get both feet in bounds for the score. This also earned plenty of loud cheers from his teammates on offense. If there’s one way to insure you’re in the final roster conversation, it’s earning praise from your teammates and coaches. But this is just OTA’s remember, and the odds are stacked against him.

The Packers may be without any veteran receivers. In fact, turn the clock back about 18 months, and none of the Packers receivers even had a single game of NFL experience. The majority were still on college rosters. But even with this, Cotton is still an underdog heading in to camp.

The Competition

In the last two drafts, the Packers have selected six Wide Receivers. Christian Watson looks to be the Packers premiere receiver heading in to 2023. Romeo Doubs will closely follow after proving himself in 2022, and 2nd round pick Jayden Reed will likely be next in line. Other 2022 Draft pick, Samori Toure showed some brilliant flashes in his rookie season, and 5th round pick Dontayvion Wicks will likely earn himself a roster spot as well given his draft investment. I would possibly give 7th round pick Grant DuBose a spot in the competition as well if not for his absence from OTAs due to injury.

So, that makes five Wide Receiver spots all but guaranteed on the final roster. I definitely see the Packers keeping six Wide Receivers given the inexperience at the position and need for depth. So, that leaves Jeff Cotton battling Grant DuBose, and likely Bo Melton for that final position.

Melton could be an obstacle for Cotton, he was drafted by the Seahawks in 2022 and was plucked off their practice squad by the Packers in late December 2022. So far, Melton hasn’t flashed in OTA’s. But his draft number could play in his favor over Cotton. However, given that draft pick wasn’t made by the Packers themselves, there’s a chance it won’t matter.

Preseason could be his time to shine

There have been so many occasions over the years where an unknown receiver shows out in the Preseason for the Packers, but barely makes the Practice squad. If even that. I would go as far as to say that the Packers receiving corp has not been so wide open for who could earn a top-4 spot in over 20 years. Sure, we have our obvious selections, but if a player like Jeff Cotton shows out, they could earn more snaps than the lower rookie/2nd year receivers.

There’s no better place to earn this spot, than the Preseason games. OTA’s are OTA’s. Put the pads on and let’s see what really happens. Even Training Camp practices are hard to gauge until you meet some true competition.

When the Packers meet the Patriots for joint practices, and they face the Bengals, Patriots, and Seahawks for Preseason action, that’ll be the time for a receiver to truly show out. You can’t ignore game situation success.

Do I think Jeff Cotton could make the 53-man roster for the first time in his career? Yes, he has a chance. If he shows out in Training Camp and the Preseason, that WR6 spot could be his to lose. It certainly seems as though his offensive teammates are pulling for him and that’s enough for me to hope he has success from now until late August.

Hopefully, like many in the movies, this underdog story in Green Bay will have it’s Hollywood ending. So far, Jeff Cotton has shown a lot of drive to be the best he can be. Maybe this time around, it will finally pay off.

Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.