One of the biggest stories to come out of the NFL Draft this year was that the Washington Redskins picked not one but two quarterbacks when they chose to take Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. In this week’s 10 Reasons Why, I try to explain why the decision to take Cousins was a good one.
1. Cousins should never have been a fourth round pick
One of the most remarkable things about this pick was that Cousins was even available at pick 102. When you look at all the teams needing reliable quarterback play and the fact that Cousins had a third round grade and could have gone in the second round, he should never have been there in the fourth. That alone makes this a smart pick.
2. Robert Griffin III was always going to be the starter
The Washington Redskins gave up A LOT to get Robert Griffin III. Therefore, the notion that picking Kirk Cousins in the fourth round is going to have an impact on Griffin’s status as the starting quarterback is absurd and you should ignore anyone who says otherwise. Seriously people, RG3 is the starter and Cousins goal will be to become his backup.
3. Rex Grossman hasn’t got much left
Rex Grossman has had one thing going for him for a while – he is well versed in the Shanahan scheme. This sole fact has allowed him to keep his job well beyond the time that he deserved to remain. The acquisition of Cousins will allow the Redskins so finally show Grossman the door following the 2012 season when his one year contract expires.
4. Cousins could become a first or second round pick in time
Over the past few years, we have seen a bunch of players drafted low either become star players or get traded and given contracts as though they were star players. A.J. Feeley, Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn – all of these players garnered some kind of value. Now Flynn didn’t get the Green Bay Packers anything granted but just look at the way he was courted upon hitting free agency. There is a definite value to the young quarterback who learns on the bench. This was the way quarterbacks used to be trained up and for years the system worked. It goes without saying that Cousins is a good prospect for being a decent mid level quarterback and could easily develop into a nice draft pick in a few years.
5. WCO coaches tend to like having young quarterbacks around
Coaches who employ the west coast offense have always been fond of acquiring young quarterbacks to mentor and Mike Shanahan is no different. During questioning after the draft, Shanahan stated the team always intended to take a second quarterback. Let me ask you a question – wouldn’t you prefer the team to take a quarterback who provides terrific value and could bring a great dividend or would you rather they bring in a quarterback who is unlikely to become a starter and may never even be a decent backup?
6. Robert Griffin III was aware of the pick well before it happened
The day Kirk Cousins was drafted, Robert Griffin III was taken aside by head coach Mike Shanahan and told “Don’t be surprised if we take another quarterback today”. His response? “Coach, do what you can to put the best team together”.
For those of you who believe this pick adds pressure to RG3, you’re fooling yourselves as I said before. The fact that Shanahan had the foresight to trust RG3 and inform him of the possibility early shows just how much faith they have in their franchise quarterback.
One critical thing that it also shows was that at that point the Redskins were looking at Kirk Cousins. How do I know that? Because they no doubt recognised the pick would bring controversy and made sure to let RG3 know beforehand so he was prepared for the questions to follow. Ryan Lindley, Kellen Moore, B.J. Coleman, Case Keenum – no-one would have blinked if one of these had been picked late. This is why I am sure that the Cousins pick was anticipated.
7. The NFL is a violent game
If there is one thing that has been made all the more real by the concussion debate and the Bountygate scandal it is that people are out to hurt you when you play in the NFL. As a mobile quarterback, Robert Griffin III is going to be a target of NFL defenses and he is going to get hit a lot. Drafting a player like Kirk Cousins to be brought along in the Shanahan system in case RG3 gets hurt makes a lot of sense. Rex Grossman may know the system well but Cousins is a far better choice and once he’s learned the system he’ll be one of the best backups in the NFL. As injury insurance goes, Kirk Cousins is pretty cheap.
8. It’s only a fourth round pick
This is one of the things that has been lost in this whole debate – Kirk Cousins was picked in the fourth round. The FOURTH round. Not the first or the second or even the third. Ok, they could have taken a quarterback later. Yeah, there were some interesting players in the fourth that had fallen just as Cousins had. Things is that the fourth round is the time when you can afford to start taking chances on a pick. Let’s face it – a fourth round pick is worth practically nothing so people shouldn’t make so much of this as a “wasted” pick.
9. Kirk Cousins wasn’t the only Redskins fourth round pick
Forgotten in the furor over Kirk Cousins pick was that the Redskins had two fourth round picks and come day 3 the Redskins had fans for both. The Redskins actually traded down from their second fourth round pick – the pick was 7 picks after Kirk Cousins – to the Pittsburgh Steelers who chose Alameda Ta’amu.
With the 119th pick that had been acquired from Pittsburgh the Redskins selected Texas LB Keenan Robinson who was selected to play inside linebacker. It was made public later that the team had always intended to take Robinson which was why the team traded down.
Why does this have anything to do with Kirk Cousins? Simply this – the Washington Redskins obviously went into day 3 with a plan and a list of players they wanted. The use of the 102nd pick on Kirk Cousins was not the big deal many have made it out to be simply because the Redskins did not plan to draft any of the players available there. In fact, it would likely have been a great disappointment to Skins management had Cousins not been available as they would have had to completely redo their plan.
10. Smart picks are safe picks
I thought I’d finish with what I believe is the most salient point of this discussion – Kirk Cousins was the best player on the board when the Redskins picked him at 102. No matter what people have said about the pick and what their opinion is of the Redskins picking Cousins, very few have or should debate that Cousins was the best player available. It was a safe pick in the fourth round which makes it all the better.
That’s it for this week. Before I go, I just wanted to let you guys know that there was someone outside the Redskins organisation who saw this pick coming. Here’s a message I sent to a fan prior to Day 3:
I knew Kirk Cousins would be a smart pick for the Washington Redskins and I’ve just given you 10 Reasons Why.