The Redskins probably should have traded Kirk Cousins


(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

It looks like Kirk Cousins will remain a member of the Washington Redskins. At least for now.

The Redskins drafted Cousins with the seventh choice in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Michigan State. At the time it caused a stir, but Mike Shanahan, the team’s head coach at the time, was quick to make his preference known.

“Any time you get a quarterback like Robert in the second pick of a draft … he’s your franchise quarterback,” Shanahan said. “He’s the starter. Period,” he would add.

And that makes sense. The scouting profile on Cousins was “a safe pick as a backup option … who will need talent around him to succeed.” So what’s the upside?

Over the past decade, there have been nine quarterbacks taken in the fourth round. Just one (Kyle Orton) became his team’s main option at quarterback, starting 70 of 75 games over eight years and throwing for 15,019 yards, 83 touchdowns and 59 interceptions for a 79.9 rating. Two others hung around the league for eight years (Luke McCown and Brad Smith) but had just 33 starts combined. They posted a passer Rating of 68.3 and 50.4, respectively.

Player From To G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int QB Rating
Kyle Orton 2005 2013 75 70 1326 2265 58.54% 15019 83 59 79.9
Luke McCown 2004 2013 38 9 184 317 58.04% 2035 9 14 68.3
Kirk Cousins 2012 2013 8 4 114 203 56.16% 1320 8 10 68.6
Stephen McGee 2010 2011 3 1 46 82 56.10% 420 3 0 82.4
Matt Barkley 2013 2013 3 0 30 49 61.22% 300 0 4 44.6
Mike Kafka 2011 2011 4 0 11 16 68.75% 107 0 2 47.7
Brad Smith 2006 2013 119 24 4 10 40.00% 51 1 2 50.4
Landry Jones 2013 2013 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0 0 0 -
Isaiah Stanback 2007 2012 22 2 0 0 0.00% 0 0 0 -

If we limit the time frame to production in years three through five (Cousins will be in this third year as a pro in 2014), the results are less encouraging.

Player From To G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int QB Rating
Kyle Orton 2008 2010 44 43 901 1504 59.91% 10427 59 33 84.8
Luke McCown 2008 2010 6 0 12 23 52.17% 122 0 0 67.7
Brad Smith 2008 2010 44 5 4 6 66.67% 51 1 0 132.6
Isaiah Stanback 2009 2012 12 2 0 0 0.00% 0 0 0 -

We can even widen our search to any non first-round quarterback drafted out of the Big Ten over the past 10 years and still not get results any more encouraging.

Player Round Drafted G GS Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int QB Rating
Kyle Orton 4 75 70 1326 2265 58.54% 15019 83 59 79.9
Chad Henne 2 61 50 1117 1876 59.54% 12439 55 62 75.3
Troy Smith 5 20 8 121 234 51.71% 1734 8 5 78.5
Curtis Painter 6 14 8 148 287 51.57% 1681 6 13 57.6
Drew Stanton 2 13 4 104 187 55.61% 1158 5 9 63.1
Jim Sorgi 6 16 0 99 156 63.46% 929 6 1 89.9
Craig Krenzel 5 6 5 59 127 46.46% 718 3 6 52.5
John Navarre 7 2 1 32 64 50.00% 342 2 5 43.9
Mike Kafka 4 4 0 11 16 68.75% 107 0 2 47.7

The bottom line is this: Cousins is likely, at best, a backup quarterback who is easily replaceable through the draft, free agency or via the waiver wire.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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