I spent this past week studying Texas LT Sam Cosmi and Notre Dame LT Liam Eichenberg for the notebook and came away with a lot of observations, notes, and anecdotes to share with everyone.
Both players have a nasty, physical demeanor on the field with Eichenberg being more consistent in that regard but Cosmi has an edge in the power he is able to generate to deliver some epic finishes. Eichenberg is the more refined overall player of the two (also two years older), with Cosmi having plenty to like but needing more refinement.
You will get to know each player better and have a more well-rounded idea of how they win and where they struggle after reading this week’s notebook, so let’s get started.
Notre Dame LT Liam Eichenberg - 6’6” 305 pounds - RS Senior - 23 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Duke, USF, FSU, Pittsburgh, UNC, Alabama
Best matchups: 2020 vs. Pittsburgh DE Rashad Weaver
Top traits: Use of hands, competitive toughness, mental processing, weight distribution
Biggest concerns: Over reliance on two-handed strike in pass protection, average athletic profile
2020 Week 1 vs. Duke: Pass protection - Eichenberg had an underrated matchup in this one when he primarily faced off against Victor Dimukeje. Eichenberg was a little late with his strikes on two reps in the game, one resulting in Dimukeje getting inside his chest on a bull-rush, stringing a move upfield, then working back inside at the top of the arc that got Eichenberg leaning and off balance. Otherwise, Eichenberg was excellent and showed some very impressive technique using his hands with efficient footwork out of his stance and in his pass sets.
Here are two clips that showcase some of those traits from Eichenberg. The first is a jump set where Eichenberg latches into Dimukeje’s chest then simultaneously retreats and snatches down on his jersey to knock him off balance and fall forward. The second clip is a 3rd and 6 rep where Dimukeje attempts a ghost technique to capture the corner that Eichenberg uses a two-handed strike on to ride him up the arc. Notice how quick, efficient, and square Eichenberg is out of his stance to get to his spot before delivering his strike. The key is at the point of attack Eichenberg keeps his head out of the block with very good posture that allows him to maintain his weight distribution and balance upfield. Notice the little push at the end of the second clip too. Toeing the line and getting underneath the skin of a defender is something Eichenberg has mastered. This second rep tells a story on Eichenberg with traits and skills that were all over his tape in 2020.
These next two clips showcase more of the same; use of hands (timing, placement, independent hands), posture, and weight distribution to defeat two attempted cross-chop moves from Drew Jordan.
These next two clips show Eichenberg passing off two T-E stunts with ease. Notice how quickly he pops out of his stance and gets eyes on the opponent. Along with how fast he processes information, how efficient he is in and out of his stance is part of what allows him to play much faster than his raw athletic ability (average) would indicate.
This last clip shows his ability to recover after giving up half-man leverage to Jordan on an island on the backside of play-action with the quarterback dropping to 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Jordan does a nice job initially working around Eichenberg, who is forced to hold, but does a very nice job of masking it by coming off of it quickly before he gets his hips back in front of the defender deep into the pocket. It shows off his ability to recover and also some of his body control to move laterally and backwards with balance to regain leverage.
Run blocking - Eichenberg was solid in the run game, showing some of his strengths and concerns. He was beat three times on attempted angle-drive or kick out blocks; once by Dimukeje on a zone stretch run when he beat him inside due to Eichenberg’s aiming points being too far outside (reoccurring issue on tape on these types of blocks), another when Dimukeje stood him up and reset the line of scrimmage on a stretch run to the left, and the last one by Chris Rumph II (6i technique) beating him inside due to Eichenberg having way too wide of a base at the point of attack, causing him to lean into contact, taking away his ability to reset or recover against Rumph’s quick inside move.
On the opposite end of the spectrum on these zone kick-outs and reach blocks, Eichenberg had two positive reps; one where he was able to kick-out Dimukeje and then hook Jordan:
Throughout the tape Eichenberg’s finishing and competitive toughness were outstanding, as well as his ability to adjust on the fly and process information post-snap.
On this inside zone combo the three technique slants inside at the snap with the backside shade looping around on a twist. Eichenberg seamlessly adjusts and picks up the backside tackle, showing good body control, recognition, and hand placement. The safety (number 0) gets knocked over between him and the shade which takes him off of his block, but the traits by Eichenberg are notable and something seen repeatedly on his tape.
Game notes continued
2020 Week 5 vs. Pittsburgh: Pass protection - Eichenberg got beaten clean twice in the game, once around the corner at seven yards on 3rd and 4 by Rashad Weaver and another later in the game inside at six yards by John Morgan III. There was usually a rep per game that I studied where Eichenberg got beat clean due to him being a hair late or early with his two-handed strike, which is exactly the danger of being as reliant on that technique, the margin for error is so slim that you need to be perfect on it for it to work consistently. The encouraging part is that Eichenberg uses the two-handed strike as well as any prospect I’ve seen in the class so losing a rep here and there relative to how often he’s using the technique is actually quite impressive and was on display this game as well. There’s a balance that needs to be found here with Eichenberg however, because losing 1-2 reps per game cleanly is not good enough. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that he can diversify his approach with multiple different strikes and hand techniques (independent hands, snatch/trap technique), some of which we have shown already and will touch on from this game as well.
First, here is the 3rd and 4 rep Eichenberg lost the corner at seven yards to Weaver broken down in more detail:
Next, the loss to Morgan inside at six yards:
These are good examples of why many coaches and players don’t advocate for using the two-handed strike as a pass protector, especially at tackle because the margin for error is so small. If the timing or placement of your hands as a tackle is off at all, the ability to recover is minimal at best, so there are naturally some easy, clean wins given up to rushers that are devastating to a passing game.
With that said, these were two attempts out of 30 for quarterback Ian Book in the game, one of which came against a likely day two pick in Weaver. Eichenberg landed his two-handed strike and used varying hand techniques masterfully on the bulk of the other pass attempts in the game. Here are some of the two-handed strikes he landed to defeat Weaver and against another future NFL player in Patrick Jones II and his ghost technique, a move he will see often in the NFL:
Here is an example of Eichenberg’s mental processing and spatial awareness to handle a DT/DE twist while seeing through the defender he’s engaged with to a late blitzing DB off of the edge. Eichenberg does an incredible job to adjust off of the DT to pick up two rushers and secure the outside of the pocket:
Best fit: Colts, Steelers, Packers, Bills, Bears
Five Plays: These are 5 additional reps from Eichenberg’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
Bonus: Eichenberg’s snatch trap technique
Texas LT Sam Cosmi - 6’7” 310 pounds - RS Junior - 21 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
Cosmi would have “blown the doors off of the combine” according to his position coach and has the inner desire and work ethic to continually improve his game.
Interesting Fact: Cosmi is a first generation Romanian-American with both parents born in Romania.
Tapes viewed: 2019 - LSU, TCU. 2020 - UTEP, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Iowa State
Best matchups: 2019 Week 2 vs. K’Lavon Chaisson
Top traits: Athletic ability, anchor, rotational strength, physicality
Biggest concerns: Footwork in pass protection, playing down to competition
2019 Week 2 vs. LSU: Cosmi was very up and down in my first exposure to him in what was the best competition he faced over the last two years of his college career going against first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson. This was a matchup that carried weight in my evaluation considering the level of competition in terms of pure talent (Chaisson was just okay as a rookie in the NFL in 2020, lacking a refined skill-set as a rusher and relying mostly on sheer athletic ability).
Pass protection - Cosmi had three ugly losses against Chaisson that showed a persistent concern about a lack of range in his set to get to his spot against high quality speed-rushers off of the edge. Part of that is due to his inconsistent footwork that results in him turning his hips towards the rusher too soon, creating a soft inside shoulder and/or undersetting the defender. You can see that occurring on these reps along with poor use of hands on contact:
While Cosmi’s footwork was an issue throughout his tape it was never exposed quite to this level in 2019 or 2020. Cosmi had three positive reps when isolated against Chaisson in this game that showed some of what makes him a quality prospect such as grip strength and his anchor once he’s latched inside a rusher’s frame. It’s also important to point out that while the results were good in these reps, Chaisson is a speed rusher without a lot of power and the process showed some concerns that were evident in all three reps and that I spotlighted in the second play:
Cosmi had a rep with an epic use of a snatch, with incredible torque to finish defensive tackle (2020 fourth round pick by the Cardinals) Rashard Lawrence and was excellent against Lawrence all game, primarily as a run-blocker.
Run blocking - Cosmi’s impact as a run-blocker was notable in this game, especially considering the bulk of it came against Lawrence, who is a solid player. These are the reps that stood out most to me that show Cosmi’s mobility to achieve superior pad level at the point of attack, explosiveness through his hips, power to generate movement, and grip strength to strain and sustain after contact.
Overall thoughts: Pass protection - Cosmi’s issues with his footwork in pass protection were all over this tape even though the results oftentimes didn’t reflect it due to the level of competition being low, the quarterback getting rid of the ball quickly, or Cosmi’s strengths masking the issue.
Cosmi’s upkick out of his stance (essentially a false step) limits his ability to get to his spot against wider aligned rushers off of the edge with proper weight distribution, shortening his range and causing his hips to turn prematurely. He’s developed a backpedal to compensate for it in order to achieve the proper depth that isn’t persistent but does pop up throughout his tape and is a bad habit that will need to be corrected.
The initial upkick/hitch is reminiscent of an issue that Kolton Miller, Jason Spriggs, Garret Bolles, Jack Conklin, and others have had. Three out of these four players have been able to correct or mask the issue enough to become above average starters, although they aren’t able to hold up on an island against top-tier pass rushers without some sort of schemed help, limiting their ceiling. Nonetheless, it is correctable to an extent, but is notable and was my biggest concern from Cosmi’s tape.
Here are a few examples that show what I’m referring to. Focus on the initial footwork of Cosmi and how he achieves depth in his set rather than just the result of the play, which don’t always tell the full story:
Cosmi did show in spurts the ability to set vertical and explode out of his stance, especially on obvious passing downs when he knew that he needed to gain depth quickly. This rep against Iowa State is one coaches will put a star next to showing what he CAN do and that he is capable of bypassing the upkick when necessary. The key will be to cultivate and develop this into more of a normal thing rather than the exception that it is now:
Like Eichenberg, Cosmi has a reliable and effective snatch/trap technique that he showcases some of his power, understanding of leverage, and violent nature on that are a lot of fun to find on tape:
Cosmi also processes line games and stunts quickly with clear eyes to see through the first to the second level to ID late loopers and blitzes. His body control to maintain control of one defender while coming off to pick up a secondary blitzer was also notable. You can see some of that on these two E-T stunts Oklahoma ran against them this past season and how well Cosmi sorted them out and worked off the end to the looping tackle.
I was most impressed with Cosmi as a run-blocker and his ability to generate movement at the point while sustaining and straining through contact to steer defenders. This also allowed his elite level rotational power and ability to generate torque to shine for some of the more violent finishes you’ll see in the class.
Best fit: Colts, Bears, Broncos, Giants
Five Plays: These are 5 additional reps from Cosmi’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
To summarize each player I see Eichenberg as being more advanced in the technical and fundamental aspects of the position with less athletic ability than Cosmi but enough of a baseline to match plenty of other starting tackles in the NFL. Cosmi is not only more athletic but he’s able to generate more power and create better movement in the run game. Again, Eichenberg isn’t a weakling that can’t succeed as a run-blocker, in fact he’s quite good in the nuances of working off of threats on combo blocks and finding ways to sustain long enough to create lanes for runners, but there is more physical talent in Cosmi’s profile to work with, albeit with more bad habits to break.
You will be able to read my full scouting reports on these two players and everyone covered in the notebook soon, as well as see their grades, comps, and more. That announcement will be coming in the next couple of weeks.
Stay tuned for next week’s notebook as we break down USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and Virginia Tech LT Christian Darrisaw.