The Washington Redskins pulled a surprise Saturday and selected Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins with the seventh pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft.
On Thursday, Washington selected Robert Griffin III – the anticipated face of the franchise -- with the second overall pick. But Cousins said that Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan told him that the Redskins simply couldn’t pass on him.
“It is a little surprising. I was trying to forecast which teams would be in need of a quarterback, and I didn’t see the Redskins thinking along those lines,” Cousins said Saturday. “But coach Shanahan’s words to me were that he couldn’t pass me up, and he was excited to have me.”
Cousins – the winningest quarterback in Michigan State history – said he had some contact with the Redskins at the Senior Bowl in January, when he played for the North team. The Redskins coaching staff coached the South team, but during that week, Cousins spoke to Mike and Kyle Shanahan often.
“I’m going to take one step at a time, go in for rookie minicamp, pick up on the playbook, and work as hard as I can to make the team, and then have an impact on that team down the road. But certainly, Robert Griffin, there’s a lot of hope in him in being part of their future. But I’m excited to be a part of their organization and help that team win football games.”
Saturday marked the first time since 1989 that a team has taken two quarterbacks in the first four rounds of the draft. (That year, the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh).
The Redskins in 1994 drafted Heath Shuler with the third overall pick of the draft and then drafted Gus Frerotte in the seventh round. Shuler never panned out, and it was Frerotte who became a Pro Bowl quarterback two years later.
Mike Shanahan described Griffin as a franchise quarterback Thursday, but he is fond of competition, and now there will be a talented young passer to push Griffin. The Redskins re-signed veteran Rex Grossman, who knows the offense well, and also have John Beck under contract. But Beck, who went 0-3 as a starter for Washington, now faces a very uncertain future with the team.
“My career, I’m going to work as hard as I can,” Cousins said. “There are a lot of things I can’t control, like where I get drafted. I’m just excited to be part of the NFL. At the end of the day, I believe God is in control of my future, and this is where I believe he wants me at this time.”