Based on the start of training camp, no rookie undrafted free agent has a better chance of making the initial 53-man roster than Jack Coco. A late roster addition and with an unusual path to the NFL, the long snapper has a real shot to beat incumbent Steven Wirtel to secure the roster spot.
“I’ve been working my whole life to have an opportunity like this,” Coco said during the offseason program. “My hard work from high school to college, changing positions multiple times. Always having that skill of long snapping has really paid off. It gives me an opportunity to come here and compete for a spot.”
In fact, Coco is inexperienced, but his upside and versatility convinced the Packers to give him a chance. And he has been a frequent participant with the starters on special teams drills, which means he might have an advantage to make the roster.
Jack Coco was an offensive lineman early on, at Johns Creek High School, in Georgia. That’s where he started to long snap. He entered Georgia Tech as a walk-on lineman and long snapper in 2017, and became the starter in his second season there. But there was a caveat: he only snapped for field goals and extra points, not for punts. And that was the reality for three seasons. In 2021, he finally got a scholarship and was moved to tight end. He played some offensive snaps, mostly as a blocker.
A physical athlete, he decided to show versatility in order to get an NFL shot.
“At pro day, I was doing whatever I could possibly do to get anyone’s attention. It just happened that long snapping was that ticket,” Coco said.
He was invited to participate in the Packers rookie minicamp right after being undrafted — there were two long snappers, Coco and Cameron Kaye. On May 18, the chance was consolidated: Jack Coco signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers.
Now, during training camp, Coco has a real challenge. He needs to long snap after a year without doing so and snap for punts for the first time in his life. But he is motivated to make it happen.
“I just needed a chance to get myself in the door, and I’ve done that. Now, it’s just one step ahead, nose to the grindstone, keep going, keep pushing forward and work my ass off to give myself an opportunity.”
The Green Bay Packers have struggled to find a good long snapper since letting veteran Brett Goode walk after the 2017 season. Goode played in Green Bay from 2008 to 2017, but the team decided they needed someone more athletic. Since then, the Packers have even used a draft pick to select Hunter Bradley, and he was the starter for three and a half seasons, but never established himself as the answer. In November, he was released, and Steven Wirtel, who had spent the whole season on the practice squad, got a chance on the active roster. His performance, though, has been underwhelming — including a failed block in the punt who cost the Packers the playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
And it’s not just a matter of finding good long snappers. Five players who spent some time with the Packers finished last season with starting jobs elsewhere: JJ Jansen (Carolina Panthers) and Clark Harris (Cincinnati Bengals), who had chances in Green Bay in the end of the 2000s, but also Taybor Pepper (San Francisco 49ers), Rick Lovato (Philadelphia Eagles), and Zach Triner (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), who had recent experiences with the Packers.
The expectation now is that, with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia’s input, the Packers are finally able to find a long-term solution. And Jack Coco has the first chance.
Photo: Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK
Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp