After a headache-filled 2013 Washington Redskins season, the franchise finds itself needing to make the most of their 2012 NFL Draft drafting of two quarterbacks. With Robert Griffin firmly entrenched as the starter for next year thanks to the sheer quantity of picks the team gave up to get him, Kirk Cousins is slated as the current #2 quarterback, but is too young, too talented, and too valuable to likely be forced into career backup duty.
But in a quarterback class that still has more questions than answers, where does Cousins stack up as a potential trade option for some team? That’s something we may very well find out sooner rather than later.
As All-Star Game and NFL Combine season approaches, evaluators hope that the 2014 quarterback class becomes much clearer than it is right now. Between juniors declaring, up and down senior campaigns for many, and injuries to top passers, the class is a proverbial mess to evaluate.
That being said, it certainly doesn’t lack depth, regardless of what type of scheme or situation you’re drafting from.
As of early January, there appears to be just two first round locks at the position: Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville (who I doubt gets out of the Top 10), and Derek Carr of Fresno State (who may not be perfect for everyone, but has the arm talent to remain a Top 20 pick).
After those two, a host of others may be in the first round discussion. Johnny Manziel is a “hate him or love him” guy for most teams, ranging anywhere from 1st to 3rd round grades. Blake Bortles of UCF has gotten attention late, but he’s not a lock for the first round until teams (and myself) go back and thoroughly evaluate his film. And AJ McCarron, though not the sexist pick, may receive some first round grades thanks to his perceived “safeness” as a prospect.
So where does Kirk Cousins fit into all this?
Cousins has the distinct advantage of having NFL film already on his scouting report. Cousins wasn’t flawless in his performances this season, but teams can have solace in the fact that they’ve seen him at potentially his best and worst, and have a much better feel for how he can handle the NFL game.
For teams such as Houston, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay, they have “win-now” type of rosters that their new coaches may not want to “waste” on developing a young quarterback. With Cousins, even though they’ll be the always prevalence of a learning curve, his ability to handle the NFL atmosphere is an invaluable skill set for a new coach looking to win now.
Cousins doesn’t have the upside to warrant trading a first round pick for. Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer both warranted first round (and more) picks, but both were more established and have better natural tools than Cousins does at this point in his career. Cousins still may end up being a “franchise passer”, but hasn’t proven that he’s anything more than a work-in-progress. And for that reason, he can’t be ranked higher than some of the high upside passers already slated to be in this 2014 class.
If the Redskins were to look for a trade partner for Cousins, they likely will find suitors, with a 3rd round pick the initial trade value. But as draft day approaches and where each quarterback will land becomes clearer and clearer, team’s will have a better idea of how draft day may unfold, as well as finalizing their own grades on these quarterback prospects.
Could Cousins land with the offensively loaded Texans and Bill O’Brien? Could he be Lovie Smith’s new feature passer in Tampa Bay? Or will Michael Lombardi/Rick Spielman opt for Cousins as opposed to drafting a new quarterback to go along with their not-yet-hired coach?
There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but as of today, the Redskins should be able to get a 2nd round pick for Cousins if they remain patient. A fourth of the league could be in the market for a new quarterback, and they all won’t view the draft as the feature option with only a handful of quarterbacks worth a Top 64 pick.
Patience and pessimism (on the 2014 quarterback class) will be the two key words as the Redskins look to find a suitor for Cousins. Patience they have, pessimism they can’t control. But if they want to get the most out of Cousins, they’ll need both. And it may take them right up until the Draft to capitalize on both.
Eric Galko is the talent behind Optimum Scouting covering college prospects for the NFL Draft on the Bloguin Network.
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