The Redskins orchestrated a quarterback makeover during draft weekend, adding Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins while releasing veteran John Beck. Washington was expected to take Griffin, 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 [Mike] Shanahan's words to me were he couldn't pass me up and that he was excited to have me."
Shanahan said he got to know Cousins while coaching the Senior Bowl. He called his fourth-round selection a "steal" and said he notified Beck early so he could negotiate with other teams during the draft.
"In that fourth round, you're trying to find people that can make your football team," Shanahan said. "We have a little bit more depth now than we did in the past."
Shanahan also squashed any quarterback controversies before they could start, proclaiming Griffin the "franchise quarterback" and the "quarterback for the next decade." But the coach added that he wanted to add young depth behind Griffin.
"You're one play away or two plays away from being the starter. You never know what happens in the National Football League," Shanahan said. "I hope Robert for the next ten years never misses a game. We'll keep our fingers crossed that that happens."
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 was 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."
To protect the two quarterbacks, the Washington selected three linemen: guard Josh LeRibeus from Southern Methodist University in the third round, guard Adam Gettis from Iowa in the fifth round and tackle Thomas Compton from South Dakota in the sixth round.
It was just the second time since the draft was reduced to seven rounds that the Redskins selected three linemen. Shanahan said that adding depth to the offensive line was a major priority with Kory Lichtensteiger fighting back from a season-ending knee injury.
"You never have enough depth in the offensive line," Shanahan said. "That's why I think it was big for us to get three offensive linemen that we were hoping we were going to get before the draft started. And we weren't really sure when they were going to go, but we were counting on signing three after the injuries last year.
The Redskins addressed the defense by selecting inside linebacker Keenan Robinson from Texas in the fourth round, cornerback Richard Crawford with the 213th pick and safety Jordan Bernstine with the 217th pick.
Washington also added 5-foot-11, 222-pound running back Alfred Morris in the sixth round.
"We didn't have the depth we wanted to last year. Fortunately, we had a good draft. Obviously helped ourselves. Now when you look at free agency, we helped ourselves in a lot of areas there," Shanahan said. "We addressed some needs and I feel very good about where we're at."
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