Commanders' rising star earns his place among the NFL's elite

The progressive offensive lineman took a positive leap in 2023.
Sam Cosmi
Sam Cosmi / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Rivera turned a once-consistent offensive line into one of the league's worst throughout his four-year tenure. The Washington Commanders struggled as a result, but there was a shining light amid all the doom and gloom that enveloped the struggling franchise.

Rivera emphasized position versatility, often to his detriment. That said, he got something correct by switching Sam Cosmi from the edge onto the interior before the 2023 campaign.

The former second-round selection shone as everything around him crumbled last time around. Cosmi gave up one sack and conceded four penalties from 1,103 offensive snaps. This earned him an impressive 80.6 grade from Pro Football Focus and propelled the player to a core foundational piece for future success.

Cosmi has enhanced options around him heading into Washington's first season under new head coach Dan Quinn. Tyler Biadasz and Nick Allegretti represent immediate upgrades after both joined the ranks in free agency. This should make life easier for the Texas product entering a contract year.

The Commanders have concerns about their offensive line, especially on the edge. But those in power can count on Cosmi to take his newfound momentum and flourish. Something that will make him a wealthy man either before, during, or shortly after the season.

Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports gave Cosmi another vote of confidence by placing him among the NFL's elite interior protectors. He ranked No. 9 due to improvements needed in the run game. However, the analyst acknowledged that the Commanders have a special player on their hands if he continues to develop in the coming months.

"The [Washington] Commanders switched [Sam] Cosmi inside to guard last season and the results couldn't have been better. Cosmi started all 17 games, allowing one sack and 30 pressures in 736 pass-blocking snaps (pressure rate allowed per dropback of 4.1%). Cosmi still has some work to do as a run blocker, but he'll be vital toward keeping Jayden Daniels upright in his rookie season. He was a very bright spot on a poor offensive line last year."

Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports

Cosmi is ascending and has the sort of mindset Quinn is looking to install across the roster. The Commanders will need to stump up huge financial resources to keep him around if the same trend continues. Fortunately for general manager Adam Peters, he's got the flexibility to work something out without it jeopardizing other position groups.

Keeping rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels upright is among Washington's biggest priorities next season. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft has the athletic skills to take the league by storm. But there are countless examples of first-year signal-callers floundering if their offensive line isn't up to the required standard.

If Cosmi takes his game up a notch next season, Daniels will reap the rewards. There's a lot to like about his trajectory and emerging leadership credentials. The consistency matched the physical profile at long last in 2023. Keeping this up is going to serve him and everyone associated with the Commanders well.

Cosmi cannot protect Daniels effectively by himself. That's the biggest remaining conundrum facing Peters before Week 1 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls around.