04/29/2012 - After trading three first-round picks and a second-round selection to choose Robert Griffin III second overall on Thursday, the Redskins drafted Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins with the seventh choice in the fourth round. But coach Mike Shanahan doesn't think he has created a typical Washington quarterback controversy although Cousins won 27 games as a three-year starter for the Spartans. "Any time you get a quarterback like Robert in the second pick of a draft ... he's your franchise quarterback," Shanahan said. "He's going to be your quarterback for the next decade. (Kirk) knows he's going to be a backup ... but there (are) injuries. I thought it was a steal for us." Washington was the first team to select two quarterbacks during the first four rounds since Green Bay in 1989. The last time the Redskins chose a quarterback in the top 10 before Griffin was in 1994 when they took Heath Shuler. He was eventually beaten out by Gus Frerotte, whom the Redskins chose in the seventh round that year. Before the third day of the draft was done, the Redskins cut John Beck, who nearly beat out Rex Grossman to be the opening day starter in 2011 but performed poorly in his three starts. Cousins, who won 27 games as a three-year starter, is undeniably talented, but coach Mike Shanahan created the kind of quarterback controversy that has often enveloped the Redskins. "It is a little surprising," Cousins said on a conference call. "I was trying to forecast which teams would be looking at a quarterback and I didn't see the Redskins thinking along those lines, but coach Shanahan's words to me were that he couldn't pass me up." - The Sports Xchange
Kirk Cousins has come to grips with it: He's more brains than brawn.
That distinction brings a certain stigma for NFL quarterback prospects. Game manager. Efficiency expert. Call it what you will, but Cousins' intelligence alone doesn't make him an underdog. Luckily for him, he's been here before.
Cousins was planning to attend Toledo, but Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio offered a last-minute scholarship, coupled with a redshirt season that made the transition from 170-pound long shot to Brian Hoyer's backup in 2008 to starter a breeze. By the time Cousins took his first snap, he knew the playbook front to back. The competition, Oklahoma transfer Keith Nichol, wound up playing wide receiver.
"This isn't a foreign concept to me because I've been having to prove myself for a long time," said Cousins. "Whether you're overlooked or underestimated or not, you have to prove yourself every day, and it's very competitive."
Cousins' natural leadership ability helps him control any room. That includes his stirring speech at the Big Ten media day in 2011 preseason. The near-presidential oratory execution drew rave reviews on the scene and has been viewed on YouTube more than 310,000 times.
That isn't helping, of course, with the brawn factor.
"I believe I have what it takes to become a great player in the NFL," said Cousins, the fifth-ranked quarterback and a projected second-round pick according to NFLDraftScout.com. "It's going to take time to prove that. You have to start somewhere. ... Once the draft passes, take the next step toward being a great player in this league. It's not going to happen overnight. You have to focus on the next challenge ahead of you."
Not everyone believed in Cousins out of Holland Christian High School. That's why his most attractive scholarship offers in athletics came from the Mid-American Conference.
But five years later, he leaves East Lansing as the career leader in touchdown, passing yards, passer efficiency, total offense and 200-yard games in Spartans history, a three-time team captain with an unblemished record against Michigan.
Scouts and coaches will love having him in the locker room. He'll rule the film room, is the ultimate worker bee who won't ask anything of teammates he's not willing to do better, the type of hard-to-find intangibles that gets quarterbacks drafted millions of dollars earlier than Cousins will be because of his average arm, velocity and shaky consistency in throwing receivers open.
Debate this evaluation with Cousins at your own peril.
"When I look at the quarterbacks who have success year in and year out, I see quarterbacks who are great leaders, very accurate and are great decision-makers," he said. "I think those things are my three greatest strengths. I think across the board, those are the things that make a quarterback successful in the NFL over a long period of time"
Positives: Generally accurate on intermediate and short throws; flashes anticipation and placement on intermediate outs and the ability to lead receivers on deeper throws. Runs pro-style system, takes snaps under center and from the shotgun. Good height and growing build to stand in the pocket. Possesses a solid knowledge of his offense and seems to know where defenses are vulnerable. Looks off safeties to open vertical routes and will come off one receiver if covered to find second option. Three-year team captain (first sophomore Spartan to receive the honor since 1949).
Negatives: Too often fails to give receivers a chance to make a play after the catch. High completion percentage padded by many quick screens. Very ordinary arm, though there is room for improvement with better technique. Lacks strength to stretch field horizontally or vertically. Throws too many passes flat-footed or without his feet being set, and lacks arm to compensate. Double-clutches at times, leading defenders to the ball. Inconsistent decision maker on the run.