From virtually the day he was drafted, I was quickly on board the Cole Holcomb hype train. How can you not root for a guy who was a walk-on in college, who made it to the pros - being drafted in the 5th round - and who comped athletically to some of the best linebackers in the game?
With pick 173 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Redskins select Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Cole Holcomb posted a Elite #RAS with Poor size, Elite speed, Elite agility at the LB position. pic.twitter.com/NxNgYhGiWP
There’s no question he was raw coming out, but over the course of the past three seasons in Washington, his maturation has been clear, and the word from on high this offseason is that he’s being considered for one of the most important positions on the defense.
Ron Rivera leaned into the idea of Cole Holcomb at MLB. Said the post-season evaluation and discussion reshaped the view of Holcomb's play and impact. https://t.co/2K4HVOAZHV— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) March 29, 2022
Veteran LB Cole Holcomb said after the season that he'd like to be play the "mike" for Washington and believes he'd be good at it.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 28, 2022
He might get his chance. This is what Martin Mayhew said today: pic.twitter.com/a9lcbsjvIL
Though Jamin Davis was originally drafted in the first round last season with the goal of transitioning him to MIKE, that experiment fell flat, and eventually the determination was made to stick him at WILL, at least in part to decrease some of the performance pressure he was facing.
From Tues; Rivera on why Jamin Davis will stick at OLB: "We see his ability to run & run through contact. He could run with running backs. He could run with tight ends. ... can learn to get downhill & take those double teams off and help his D-line up front."— John Keim (@john_keim) January 12, 2022
They want a true MLB
The initial thought, then, going into the offseason, was that Holcomb would fill the role at SAM, where he has excelled at times.
Here, he's at SAM, but this shows his recognition, reaction and ability to shoot a gap and make the playhttps://t.co/H5N0i9BBtk— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 29, 2022
I had thought that decision was made because Holcomb was tried out at MIKE last season after Jon Bostic went down, and that the coaching staff wasn’t particularly happy with the results, but in discussing it with Mark, he pointed out that Holcomb played pretty solidly when given the shot at MIKE in 2021.
The pass may have been uncatchable, but you can’t play this much better than Cole Holcomb did here. pic.twitter.com/nE9awbWnb6— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) December 14, 2021
Cole Holcomb - PICK 6! pic.twitter.com/2hHD5b9Iyi— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) December 12, 2021
So What Happens at SAM?
There were plenty of defensive gaffes to have been frustrated with last season, the failure to play Landon Collins at linebacker until about halfway through the season, the miscalculation mentioned above regarding Davis, and so hammering on some of the edgier defensive recommendations suggested last offseason fell by the wayside.
That said, several commenters here - and even Julie Donaldson at one point - raised the issue of 7th round pick Shaka Toney getting a run at SAM immediately after the 2021 draft. Toney is undersized as a pro-level EDGE rusher, which was the position that he played at Penn State, but his athleticism metrics are through the roof, and several savvy observers, including the coaches at last year’s Senior Bowl, thought highly of Toney’s potential at linebacker.
A “Davis, Holcomb, Toney” linebacking corps would be one of the most athletically gifted in the league. One would hope two former NFL linebackers could effectively deploy that talent.
So, back to the thesis of this article. In the last year of his rookie deal, Holcomb will cost Washington about $2.6M this year. For the past 3 years, he’s cost them an average of about $750k per year, and has been one of the best values on the team for the past two years (last year, he was the best value).
What’s he likely to bring on the open market? I’d comp him above the Broncos’ Josey Jewell, who just signed a two-year, $11M deal ($6M guaranteed), but below Myles Jack, who just signed a two-year, $16M deal ($8M guaranteed) with the Steelers.
I would think a 2-3 year contract, with an AAV of $6.5-7M (half guaranteed) would be a market rate contract for Cole at this point, and the reality is, if he’s shifted to MIKE and plays well there in 2022, that price only increases (he’s only 25 years old).
Holcomb is a draft success story, a Day 3 pick who has gradually matured and looks to be primed to fill a leadership role on the defense before the end of his rookie contract. It would be great to see him locked in as the center of this - potentially - talented defense for several years to come.
What do you think about extending Cole Holcomb?
This poll is closed
Do it this offseason.
Do it next offseason.
Don’t do it at all.
Prepare for a double tag scenario.