Don’t Overlook Omari Cobb
With Willie Gay Jr. not playing in this game, my list of linebackers I wanted to watch was only two names long: Nick Bolton and Riley Cole. Bolton interested me as a top pick and the likely future of the position, while Cole was an undrafted rookie who I thought had some upside and special teams potential. While I actually liked what I saw from both of those guys in this game, neither were the linebacker that surprised me with their play. That was Omari Cobb.
All I knew about Cobb was that he was one of the backups last year who had to play in the Atlanta game when basically every one of K.C.’s linebackers were out. He did an okay job that day and then went back to obscurity once the Chiefs regular linebackers were back and ready to go. He certainly wasn’t someone who I expected to be an impact player in the first preseason game.
Again, this was just a preseason game, and Cobb was going against second stringers, but he showed good speed off the edge on the sack he got and caught my eye on a few other plays flying around the ball. It seems like the Chiefs have had more luck with blitzing defensive backs than linebackers in the last couple of seasons, but if Cobb continues to flash some pass rush upside, it’s not impossible that he might be able to get on the field now and then.
Obviously, the top three linebackers on the roster (Anthony Hitchens, Gay, and Bolton) are pretty well set, but Ben Niemann still gets lots of snaps too. I like Niemann as a quality depth and special teams guy, but he’s not a high impact player. If Cobb can add some pass rush potential from the linebacker spot and was able to take some reps from Niemann here and there, I’d have no problem with that.
I don’t know if Cobb will be able to replicate his performance in the next two preseason games, but if he looks as good in them as he did in this one, not only should he lock up a roster spot, but I’d give him a shot to see if he can make plays with the top unit if given the chance.
Finally, a true developmental pass rusher?