Samuel Cosmi is a big man; he stands 6’6” and 314 pounds. For 34 consecutive games, he lined up at right or left tackle for the University of Texas Longhorns and competed, usually dominating the competition across the line of scrimmage, relying on his physical skills.
In his final season as a collegiate athlete, he chose to sit out the final two games in order to avoid illness or injury and to prepare for the NFL draft. In his announcement and farewell message, he demonstrated maturity and graciousness:
It was an extremely difficult decision, but after talking with my family, I feel that it’s in my best interest to forgo the remainder of the season. My goal is to prepare for the NFL Draft and work towards that dream of mine. I want to thank everyone at the University…and all who have had a part in my journey. I wouldn’t be here and have had the success I’ve had if it weren’t for them. Coming in as a young skinny lineman who started out on the scout team and ending up where I am now is a true testament to God, this program, and everyone who has helped me become the man I am today.... I Thank you to all of Longhorn Nation. I’m going to bleed Burnt Orange for the rest of my life! Hook ‘em!”
On Friday night, the Washington Football Team helped Cosmi take that next step into the future when they took him as the 51st overall pick (2nd round) of the 2021 NFL draft. Cosmi enters a situation filled with both opportunity and challenge – both of which are driven by the young man’s physical talents.
The opportunity is driven by Cosmi’s natural abilities, and the potential that they signal to NFL coaches and fans. Cosmi is one of the best athletes on the offensive line in this draft class -- many will say THE best. Even at his immense size, he ran a relatively blistering 4.84s 40-yard dash, jumped almost 10 feet in the board, and recorded a 30” vertical leap, while putting up 36 reps at 225 lbs on the bench press.
In Relative Athletic Score (RAS) testing, Cosmi scored a 9.99 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 2nd out of 1,119 offensive tackles tested from 1987 to 2021. This is the highest RAS for an OT ever recorded using official testing numbers. In short, Cosmi is an athletic freak for a big lineman.
The challenge that lays before him is to develop the technical skills needed to win individual battles against NFL defensive players consistently as a pro. The issue is that Cosmi excelled as a college athlete largely on the strength of his superior athleticism. Against veteran NFL defensive linemen, that edge will be dramatically narrowed. To become the superior pro tackle that he has the potential to become, Cosmi will need to master the techniques needed to rise to the top of a profession where every man on the field is an elite athlete.
Fortunately, Cosmi will be in the capable hands of one of the best offensive line coaches in the game. John Matsko came to Washington last year with new head coach Ron Rivera, and his impact was seen immediately in the improved play of Washington’s offensive line. Matsko spent training camp last year teaching the Washington linemen new techniques for footwork, hand placement and tactical dominance.
Pro Football Focus ranked the WFT offensive line as the 6th best in the league in 2020, saying:
Coming in at 29th on the preseason edition of these rankings, Washington presents one of the biggest surprises of the regular season with their play up front.
The biggest question mark coming into the year surrounded who would win the left tackle job. Geron Christian won the job and started there for six games before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Still, his replacement, Cornelius Lucas, actually provided some stability at the position with a 78.3 overall grade and an 83.1 grade in pass protection that ranked 11th at the position over the regular season.
Washington’s high end-of-season ranking, compared to the very low preseason expectations for last year’s squad, is a direct reflection on Matsko.
But, as you can see, the biggest question mark for the upcoming 2021 season with respect to the Football Team’s offensive line is at left tackle, where journeyman Cornelius Lucas did an admirable job in 2020, but where an upgrade and long-term solution were needed.
Samuel Cosmi is that solution. His technique is a bit raw for the NFL, but he has elite physical gifts. He will be under the tutelage of one of the best line coaches in the NFL, and, with Cornelius Lucas still on the roster, will not be under pressure to start before he is ready, but Samuel Cosmi is the new future left tackle that Washington has been looking for to continue the legacy that includes names like Joe Jacoby, Jim Lachey, Chris Samuels, and Trent Williams. Samuel Cosmi is likely to be the next name on that distinguished list.