Washington Football Team linebacker Cole Holcomb has a real chance to become a breakout star in 2021.
Washington Football Team linebacker Cole Holcomb has had to put in a considerable amount of work to get where he is today. He began his college career as walk-on, turned the opportunity into a scholarship, and is now on the verge of achieving star status for the burgundy and gold.
The former University of North Carolina product concluded his four-year tenure in Chapel Hill by totaling an impressive 327 combined tackles. The tenacity with which Holcomb operated as a collegiate athlete catapulted him into becoming a draft-worthy prospect. Washington chose the 6-foot-1, 240-pound former Tar Heel defender in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Cole Holcomb has produced early for the Washington Football Team
Although Holcomb’s time with the Washington Football Team has been brief and moderately productive, he has earned his share of “wow” moments. One of those moments came courtesy of a Week 7 game from the 2020 season. A matchup that saw the Washington Football Team best the hated Dallas Cowboys 25-3 at FedEx Field.
Midway through the second quarter, the Dallas offense had a third-and-nine opportunity from their own thirty-six yard line. Quarterback Andy Dalton hurriedly dropped back to pass, but was quickly engulfed by a hard-charging Holcomb. The young linebacker blitzed from the middle of the defensive formation, and proceeded to take the soul of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot en route to the sack.
Elliot had proved to be an effective blocker prior to the collision, but Holcomb’s display of speed and brute strength was more than the former All-Pro back could handle. If you don’t remember the play, please see the clip below via Twitter.
While the clip is only a quick reference involving one of the 555 total snaps that Holcomb took on defense in the 2020 season, it demonstrated everything that is special about his game. His game is a little bit reckless at times, but when he sees an opportunity to make a play for the greater benefit of the team, he puts in a great deal of effort to make it.
Cole Holcomb can ascend beyond the baseline starting level
There are a number of linebackers across the National Football League that can fill the stat sheet when it comes to producing tackles. In fact, there is a place in the league for those linebackers whose ceiling is becoming an expert in the art of tackling.
It is the view of this writer that, moving forward, Cole Holcomb will become more than just a stat-producing tackling machine. The talented defender has the athletic profile need to develop into a legitimate playmaking threat, in addition to recording tackles at a high level.
According to Pro Football Network analytics guru Kent Lee Platte, Holcomb put up a 9.64 (out of 10) Relative Athletic Score prior to the 2019 draft. His 4.51 40-yard dash, 2.6 20-yard split, 1.59 10-yard split, 6.7 three-cone drill, 4.14 short shuttle, and 11-foot broad jump all measured in at an elite level. Simply put, he graded out highly on testing designed to measure a player’s agility, speed, strength, and overall explosion.
Elite athletic numbers don’t always translate to the football field for all players, but they can provide a picture used to determine whether a player has high-end potential or not. When an elite athletic profile matches up with on-field production, the sky is really the limit for the particular player.
Entering the 2021 campaign, Cole Holcomb has the ability to transition from being a run-and-hit linebacker to a consistent playmaker. What will that transition look like? The transition for Holcomb may involve more tackles for loss or minimal gain, sacks, passes defensed, interceptions, and forced fumbles.
Each area of playmaking opportunity can have a real impact on the next play, series, and game. Who knows? The next time Cole Holcomb tramples over an opposing running back for a sack, or dives for an interception after a tipped pass, it could have serious implications on the team’s success by the end of the year.
In closing, there’s an old saying that reads “sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.” Sometimes, a three or four-second highlight can provide a potential glimpse into the future. The battle between Holcomb and Elliot showed a linebacker who has all the necessary tools to become the next breakout star in Washington.
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