Sam Cosmi is one of several Washington Commanders players who, for various reasons, are looking to bounce back from an inconsistent rookie season. The top half of Washington’s 2021 draft class provided plenty of promise before the season, but because of injuries or a slow learning curve, they either missed several games or provided little to no impact last year. Cosmi, selected in the second round by Washington, missed seven of 17 games due to injuries. He missed four weeks due to an ankle injury and three weeks for a hip injury that placed him on short-term IR. Cosmi also missed one week due to COVID-19.
Sam Cosmi started in all nine games that he played last year. That’s 474 snaps he had in his rookie season, with a large majority of his snap count at right tackle. In this “bounce back” season for Cosmi, he is the projected starting right tackle. According to projections, he will be lined up alongside Charles Leno (LT), Andre Norwell (LG), Chase Roullier (C), and Trai Turner (RG), respectively. Cosmi has one season under his belt, while the rest of the projected starters have a combined average of 6 seasons played.
Cosmi’s right guard from a year ago, Brandon Scherff, left in free agency to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Scherff’s veteran presence and All Pro level skillset was a great asset to Cosmi in both the pass and run game. Scott Turner’s offense utilized a spread scheme primarily out of 11 personnel with vertical concepts. Scherff frequently helped Cosmi in pass protection when he found himself uncovered at the snap. At times Scherff’s help mitigated potential pressures and sacks on quarterback Taylor Heinicke. The Commanders also utilize a healthy mix of gap and zone scheme runs, where the guard and tackle often work together on combination blocks and double teams.
A potential adverse effect from Scherff moving on is that Trae Turner and Cosmi might not reach the same level of cohesiveness as Scherff and Comsi did. Those issues can impact, for example, their ability to effectively combo a defensive lineman on the first level or identify/pass-off/pickup stunts in pass pro.
There were mostly positive reviews about his performance in his rookie year. However, heading into the 2022 season, given the OL turnover and Cosmi’s inexperience compared to his linemates, Cosmi has unspoken pressure on his shoulders to hold his weight.
Takeaways from 2021
On this rep, Sam Cosmi utilized a vertical pass set against rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari. Regarding ability, footwork, and hand usage often got the rookie in trouble last season. On vertical pass sets, the goal is to quickly gain depth against the edge rusher, driving straight back to reach their set point. First, Cosmi lacks the foot quickness to achieve that depth and win the half-man relationship. Secondly, as Ojulari prepares to long-arm him, Ojulari quickly dips his shoulder around the edge as Cosmi attempts to strike down on his long arm. However, because he never stayed square long enough to secure the edge, in addition to not reaching his set point quick enough, Cosmi could not win on this rep.
In the early season matchup between Ojulari and Cosmi, he utilized a 45-set on this rep. In terms of Cosmi’s frame, he is on the lighter side of offensive lineman and has below-average arm length. Ojulari didn’t win the rep because Cosmi showed good explosion at the snap and was able to mirror and maintain good functional strength as Ojulari went around the arc. However, Cosmi lacked a plan against the long arm and struggled mightily to get the long arm off him once they engaged.
Sam Cosmi is a physical player who, for the most part, is still trying to find consistency in the pass game. However, this particular rep was good and an indication that he has untapped potential that I am sure he and the coaches are improving upon this off-season. Utilizing a vertical set, Cosmi took on a long arm again from Ojulari. From the snap, he displayed good initial quickness to reach his set point and showed three impactful independent strikes with his right hand that completely shut Ojulari down on this rep. So, while Cosmi could not get the long arm off of him, he showed good recovery from Ojulari’s initial rush move and won the rep.
On this zone run, Cosmi is tasked with backside blocking 3-tech Dexter Lawrence, a versatile and powerful interior defensive lineman. Cosmi’s most comfortable in the run game, where his assignments and techniques come easier for him to properly execute. As a backside blocker, at the very least it is important to delay the backside pursuit. Cosmi does a really good job showing solid quickness at the snap, but very good hand placement and functional strength to run laterally with Lawrence all while creating a cutback lane for running back Antonio Gibson.
Cosmi is tasked with a playside block on Buffalo Bills edge rusher Gregory Rousseau on this outside zone run, clearing out the B gap for Gibson to run through. Chase Roullier could not sustain his block, Brandon Scherff took a poor angle on the second level, and Antonio Gibson failed to bend his run inside as the middle of the field was vacated. However, Cosmi showed good acceleration and explosion off the line, driving Rousseau back with good pad level and initial hand placement once engaged. This run might have looked much better if the three elements that did fail didn’t.
In the second clip, Cosmi is tasked with the same assignment, turning LB Oshane Ximines out of the playside gap. Again, with good hand placement on contact, Cosmi displayed very good functional strength to turn Ximines out of the gap for a big Gibson run.
One of Cosmi’s best assets that he brings to Washington’s OL unit is his athleticism. On this sweep, Cosmi and Scherff execute a combo block on the first level, and as the seal blocker, he has to climb to the linebacker. While Cosmi could not initially secure outside leverage, he displayed the foot speed and lateral agility to mirror the defender and effectively move in space on the second level of the defense.
Cosmi is climbing to the second level again on the second rep. In this instance, he displayed very good competitiveness and mental processing as he quickly realized the Giant defenders vacated the path he intended to clear for Gibson. However, because he never stopped looking for work, Cosmi cut off one side of the backside defenders in pursuit of Gibson. That block helped contribute to Gibson’s maximum yardage on that play.
Sam Cosmi is a solid young offensive talent on the offensive line, and there’s no doubt he can hold his weight from a skill standpoint. However, I think it will take some time for him to become consistently good in pass protection. His footwork, in terms of quickness and set points, will need to continue to show improvement. Additionally, his frame and arm length suggest that he will have a hard time against power rushers with good arm length if he cannot develop effective plans with his use of hands to fend them off when try to get into his chest. Cosmi showed flashes throughout the season where he displayed the ability to marry his lower body with his upper body, mirror defenders, and have effective hand placement when engaged. It’s not all bad; coaches have some solid traits to build upon.
Cosmi’s ability in the run game is much different than the pass, and he has the potential to be one of the better linemen in the league as a run blocker. Cosmi has the pad level, explosion, and strength to sustain most blocks in the run game. Furthermore, he has the athletic ability to maneuver laterally, in space, and on the second level of the defense. However, like the passing game, lengthier, bigger interior defensive linemen will create issues for Cosmi on his reach and base blocks. He will need to develop a plan to win against these linemen consistently.
Now, we just hope Cosmi can stay healthy enough for a full 17 game showing in year two.