What does Texas LT Samuel Cosmi bring to the Washington Football Team?

What is Washington getting with its second-round pick?

With their second-round pick, the Washington Football Team selected Texas left tackle Samuel Cosmi. In a deep class of offensive tackles, Cosmi was regarded as a talent that could have gone anywhere from the last first-round to the middle of the second. At 6-foot-6, 314 pounds Cosmi tested as one of the most athletic tackles in the draft class. Kent Platte, who created Relative Athletic Score (RAS), a metric which gives athletic testing numbers some context for each position group, had Cosmi with a 9.99 RAS grade. That ranked second out of 1143 tackles he has data on from 1987-2021. 

Clearly then, Cosmi is an outstanding athlete for the left tackle position. But when you watch him, it’s not necessarily the first thing that stands out. For me, the thing that stood out the most was the nasty streak that the best offensive lineman have. He has a terrific mentality for a left tackle and will look to finish blocks with his defender on the ground whenever possible.

This is essentially a highlight package of Cosmi knocking guys to the ground. The first two plays show Cosmi looking for work, meaning when his rusher drops into coverage, he turns his head inside and looks to help out his teammates. On both occasions he crashes inside on a stunting defensive tackle and bulldozes him to the ground. Then we see a stunt from a defensive tackle and defensive end. As the end crashes inside, the tackle loops around and Cosmi manages to pull him off balance and fall on top of him, blocking him to the ground. Next we have a defensive tackle working to the edge and jumping to try and get in the passing lane. Offensive lineman love to punish defenders that jump, taking that opportunity to shove them to the ground and Cosmi doesn’t miss out here. Finally, we see Cosmi picking up a blitzing slot defender and driving him to the ground.

That nasty streak will stand Cosmi in good stead in the NFL and will wear on defenders that aren’t ready for a punishing afternoon playing against him. Most of those plays were passes, but Cosmi is just as capable of finishing run blocks in the same style.

Here we see two outside zone runs, both to the left. Cosmi has a defensive end to block and try to move horizontally out towards the sideline on each play. In both examples, Cosmi does a great job getting his hands inside and on the chest of the defender, giving himself all the leverage. He gets the defenders moving and the moment they lose their footing or balance, Cosmi’s power takes over and he drives them to the ground.

Cosmi certainly has the right mentality to succeed in the NFL, and he clearly has the athleticism and strength to do so too. So why was he only a second-round pick rather than a first-round pick? Cosmi has some technique issues that he needs to work through. They aren’t issues that can’t be correct with good coaching and repetition, but they will need to be worked on and fixed if he’s going to make the jump to starting left tackle in the NFL.

A technical problem Cosmi has is his feet. He has the athleticism and quickness of feet to be a good left tackle, but his actual technique with how he uses his feet is poor. Perhaps it was how he was coached in college, but what we see in these clips won’t cut it in the NFL. When a tackle works against a rusher off the edge, they are typically taught to use a kick-slide technique, kicking their outside foot out and sliding their weight over it to gain both width and depth as they drop back to cut off the rush. What Cosmi does in all of these clips is almost backpedal, like a cornerback defending a wide receiver. 

Why is this an issue? A corner back pedals because it allows them to stay on top of a receiver while giving them the ability to stop their feet and break forward quickly as a receiver breaks off his route. As a left tackle, Cosmi shouldn’t need to suddenly break forward. He should be looking to slide back and gain depth, cutting off any speed rush to the edge and setting himself a strong base to withstand any type of power rush. In the NFL, a pass rusher will see that technique and quickly convert to a power rush to try and bulldoze over him as he backpedals, before he can reset his feet.

In theory it’s a correctable issue, but it’s an important one to correct. It’s not a technique he used on every snap, but it did show up regularly enough to be considered a problem.

Another problem Cosmi has occasionally is bending from the waist. It’s a very common issue for young offensive tackles of his size. Rushers are typically smaller so they have to bend down more to reach and engage them.

Here’s a few examples of him bending from the waist. You can see the issue it causes for him is that it takes him completely off balance. Instead of keeping his weight over his feet, his center of gravity shifts further in front of his feet the more he bends at the waist. That makes it harder and harder to maintain balance and causes him to lunge at defenders rather than remain in a patient, balanced stance. 

This is another correctable issue. Washington right tackle Morgan Moses struggled occasionally with this occasionally early in his career. It requires the tackle to bend more at the knee rather than the waist, allowing them to get lower while maintaining their balance and sturdiness. But again, it will take time and reps to correct it.

The final main technical issue I have with Cosmi is that he struggles at times to maintain and sustain blocks, particularly in the run game. He has a habit of starting a block well and then falling off of it and failing to keep his defender engaged.

These two plays show examples of Cosmi falling off his blocks. On both occasions, Cosmi does a good job reaching his defender and engaging with the initial block, even generating some movement. However, as the play progresses, Cosmi fails to maintain his block, allowing the defender to break free and work around him before assisting in making the tackle. 

It’s yet another correctable technical issue, but of course it’s one he’ll need to improve on quickly before he’s ready to start in the NFL. He has a fair amount of technical flaws in his game that need to be ironed out, which is why he’s a second-round pick rather than a first, but fortunately Washington has a good offensive line coach in John Matsko, who should be able to help correct and develop Cosmi’s technique.

However, this isn’t to say that Cosmi is terrible technically, he’s actually far from it. He has very good hands that have clearly been coached well and he understands different types of rushes require different techniques to handle them. Thus, he’s learned a variety of moves to help him negate different styles of rush, as well as having good hand technique and placement in general.

I’ve included this play to highlight Cosmi’s understanding of hand placement and timing. It’s not always about punching both hands straight to the chest of the defender, good players will see that coming and swat those hands down. The best tackles understand they have to use separate hand placements to keep rushers from beating them with the same move over and over. 

On this play, Cosmi uses his outside hand separately from his inside hand. First, he keeps both low and together as the defender uses a stutter move with both hands and feet. Cosmi patiently reads the defender, waiting for him to declare his rush path. Once the defender shows his rush outside and exposes his chest, Cosmi raises his outside hand and lands it on the outside pec of the defender to cut off his rush outside. Cosmi knows the defender won’t beat him outside now and anticipates his next move to be back inside, so he then raises his inside hand and places it under the inside armpit of the defender. With a hand on the outside pec and one under the inside armpit, Cosmi gains complete control of the block and the defender has no response as his rush completely stalls.

Cosmi also has a clear favorite move that he uses regularly. Whenever he feels a long-arm rush or a defender using their inside arm to lean on him, Cosmi counters with a chop to the wrist which clears the arm and often knocks the defender off balance.

These plays all show Cosmi using that chop technique. The moment he feels an extended arm pressing against his inside shoulder or pec, Cosmi quickly lifts his inside arm and chops down on the defenders’ wrist. This clears the hand off his chest and causes the defender to lose balance for a moment as they fall forward. Where Cosmi can improve is taking full advantage of the leverage he gains from using this chop and finishing the block by taking the defender down to the ground, but I suspect he’ll learn that as he gains experience in the NFL. It’s such a common move for him that he uses in every game that it’s almost a natural reaction to feeling the placement of the defender's hand near his inside shoulder or pec. It’s a terrific move to have to counter a very popular style of rush in the NFL, the long-arm rush, so it should be effective at the NFL level too.

Overall, Washington is getting a terrific athlete at the left tackle position with some very good hands. The athleticism fits in with what Washington has built on the offensive line and the zone run scheme they had success with last season. He has some technical issues, which is why he dropped to the second round, but they are correctable in theory. Cornelius Lucas was solid down the stretch last season at left tackle and could afford Cosmi some time to smooth out those issues without the pressure to start right away. But if he can fix those issues and continue to develop the stronger parts of his game like his hand usage, Cosmi has a lot of upside as a potential future anchor of Washington’s offensive line at left tackle.