Sixty-eight days after the Washington Football Team drafted Sam Cosmi in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the University of Texas alum was given the unenviable task of blocking Chase Young and Montez Sweat in training camp.
He did as well as anyone could expect a rookie to do in that situation, which was get beaten, but not in an embarrassing fashion. Two months later, Cosmi has been thrust into a starting role at right tackle in Washington, with mixed results.
While some fans might want to hit the panic button on the first-year offensive lineman after two games due to his penalties and a few missed blocks, they shouldn’t. Here’s why.
In Week 1 vs. the Chargers—Cosmi’s first taste of pro action was in a game that mattered—he gave up one sack, two QB hurries and four pressures. His pass blocking looked shaky, but Ron Rivera noted that he was going up against one of the top pass rushers in the league in Joey Bosa and “held his own.”
But let’s look a bit deeper into his performance vs. Los Angeles. While he looked almost incapable of hindering Bosa on his way to the quarterback, Cosmi’s run blocking was superb. According to PFF’s Nick Akridge, Cosmi had a 15.0 pass block grade compared to an 85.8 run block grade. Night and day.
Fast forward four days to Thursday Night Football at home vs. the Giants. More mixed results. On certain plays like this, Cosmi looked outmatched and needed backup from his fellow O-lineman to finish his blocks.
He also committed a few costly penalties. An unnecessary roughness penalty and a holding call stalled two drives, forcing a punt and a Dustin Hopkins field goal.
But, overall, the good news appeared to outweigh the bad for Cosmi in Week 2. He allowed zero QB pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, over 50 pass-blocking snaps — an immediate week-over-week improvement from Week 1.
His run blocking remained sublime, as he cleared the runway for Antonio Gibson several times, especially on cuts to the outside (watch this video to see how he does it). He was so good, even accounting for the penalties, that PFF gave Cosmi the second-highest grade in the league for offensive rookies in Week 2. In fact, his 90.2 run block grade is third-highest among all the league’s tackles.
Yes, the penalties can be costly, especially when they take Washington out of field goal range or negate big-yardage plays. Those penalties happen, especially for rookie offensive linemen who have 120 total minutes of experience in professional games. But Cosmi has proven to be more than adept at plugging the hole that existed at RT for Washington after the departure of Morgan Moses.
Need more of a reason to believe Cosmi can blossom into a stalwart of Washington’s line? Just ask Brandon Scherff.
“As you’re a rookie, everything speeds up really fast, but once you get those adjustments, it starts to slow down and then you can think you can think less and less and play a lot faster,” he said of Cosmi during training camp.
The learning curve from college to the pros is one few athletes can overcome, especially O-lineman. Even ESPN noted that Cosmi had flaws in his game ahead of the draft, like the fact he has a proclivity to lose his balance and not be aggressive enough. The good news is that those are things that can be remedied with experience and perhaps only with experience. Cosmi himself knows that.
“Every time I take a step on that practice field, I’m always trying to get better, always just getting that muscle repetition in. So I feel like as I’m getting more practice—and practice is super important for me—it just gets better and better,” Cosmi told the media on Tuesday.
“Sometimes when you try to break a habit, it takes a lot of repetition to break a habit. I found myself doing some of that [getting beaten on blocks vs. the Chargers], but I felt like I got better coming into the next week vs. the Giants, and so like I said, I’m just getting better every week.”
Simply put, Cosmi will improve. He already has between the first two games, which is impressive for a rookie given some of the toughest assignments in the league since draft day.
If he can hone in on his discipline, cut down on the penalties and start to become as consistent on pass blocks as he is on run blocks, Cosmi might just become the gem Washington needs at right tackle. Rivera has flat-out said Cosmi will improve, after the necessary growing pains that come with being a professional. He hinted at that over the summer, perhaps being aware of what Washington had gotten when they drafted the big man.
“You watch Sam and he gets it. He’s good individually. He’s good in a group. He’s the kind of guy that can help us going forward and he’s got to continue to compete because he gives himself a chance, a good opportunity if he continues to compete and practice,” Rivera said.