By Mike DeFabo
The Redskins surprised no one by taking Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. But selecting another quarterback in the fourth round startled some, including the pick himself.
“I think it is a little surprising,” said Kirk Cousins, a quarterback from Michigan State. “I was trying to forecast which teams would be looking at quarterback and I didn’t see the Redskins thinking along those lines. But coach Shanahan’s words to me were he couldn’t pass me up and that he was excited to have me.”
The Redskins are the first team in 23 years to draft two quarterbacks within first the four rounds. After suffering through years of turnover at the position, it’s clear stabilizing it is a major priority this offseason.
The last time Washington selected two quarterbacks in the same draft was in 1994 when it took Heath Shuler third overall and Gus Frerotte in the seventh round. Frerotte eventually won the starting job by the next season and became a Pro Bowler in 1996.
“I’m familiar with that story. I’ve heard Mark Schlereth talk about that story on multiple occasions,” Cousins said. “Certainly, different stories are different stories, but I’m going to take it one step at a time. My job is to go in now to rookie mini camp and learn first thing’s first.”
Cousins, the 102nd-overall pick, was a three-time captain at Michigan State, where he set team records in passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26).
He also impressed many by leading and organizing his own Pro Day.
“I felt like a thing a lot of these teams are looking for is leadership and organization and attention to detail. It’s hard to just explain to them that you have that; you have to demonstrate it,” Cousins said. “I felt like the opportunity to lead and organize my own Pro Day was a great way to demonstrate that. I think it was received very well. With the way it was received, I think it may be a commonplace thing going forward.”
Michigan State runs a similar pro-style offense, so Cousins said he is familiar with the footwork and handoffs. However, he acknowledged that the terminology would be an obstacle.
“You have to learn a completely new language. Certainly, with the Redskins that will be the biggest challenge going forward, will be mastering the playbook as fast as possible,” Cousins said. “Both Robert and I will be going through that and we can quiz one another as we try to master the playbook to help the Redskins be as good of a football team as possible.”