RG3 Era Begins With Confusing Quarterback Pick
(Originally published Apr. 29, 2012 on Patch.com)
Addressing the receiving corps in free agency and drafting multiple guards count as positive steps in the new Robert Griffin III (RG3) era.
Passing on a needed tackle, running back or safety in the fourth round for another quarterback – Michigan State's Kirk Cousins - in RG3's first season does not.
From the moment the Washington Redskins shipped three first-round picks plus a second-round selection to the St. Louis Rams last month, the plan should have been — and in the eyes of the staff, presumably is — to maximize their new asset's potential.
I am stumped how adding another passer does that.
As always, team comes first and smart organizations draft talent over need, but within reason. In this case, special consideration should have gone to enhancing the new guy with the power arm, dynamic speed and movie star charisma.
Though RG3's cool vibe might not suggest a player under pressure, he is. By adding Cousins, the Redskins may have unnecessarily turned up the stress level.
Let's me make this very clear — without question RG3 is the Redskins' future.
His present includes joining an offense with a leaky line and a backfield lacking depth. Fourth rounders can help those areas and elsewhere.
The choice certainly will not keep RG3 upright in the pocket, give him a supportive ground game or fix a beatable secondary so he does not have to throw on every down just to keep pace.
Perennial playoff teams with fewer depth chart gaps can take such a luxury pick. The Redskins are still in trying to build a roster. That did not stop Washington from becoming the first team since 1989 to select two quarterbacks in the first four rounds.
Do not get caught up in the dreamy idea that Cousins' presence simply means bye-bye Rex Grossman. As the lone experienced passer on the team — adios John Beck — Rex is not going anywhere; not now anyway. With Grossman's understanding of Shanahan's playbook, coaches can shift their attention to the rookie during training camp.
Oh, wait, now there are two rookies and both require attention. Something tells me the competitive Cousins is not going to cede his reps.
With Grossman as the other quarterback, there would be ZERO controversy should RG3 struggle, something most young quarterbacks do. Don't let the Cam Newton freak show fool you. Let him take his time, grow at his own pace, snail or Olympic fast.
Except now there is another young hotshot passer who desperate fans and a story-angle media could talk up if given a reason.
Here's a reason: Regardless of long-term projections, Cousins could initially be more game ready.
The spirited three-year captain set a Michigan State record with 66 career touchdown passes. Several draft analysts consider him a potential NFL starter. This draft profile suggests Cousins will be "ahead of the curve" entering camp.
Competition is exactly what you want for your team, but not with this position right now.
You say there is no competition? We all agree on that, now. Of course, nobody thought Heath Shuler, the third overall pick in the 1994 draft, would lose his job to a 7th rounder from the same class.
Nobody let Gus Frerotte in on the plan. Guessing Cousins won't get that memo either. After falling to day three of the draft, he has much to prove.
If he does just that, Mike Shanahan will notice. Then the concern becomes will RG3 notice him noticing.
That is why I do not buy any comparison of the Cousins selection to the Michael Vick-era Falcons taking Matt Schaub in round three as ESPN tried doing during their draft coverage. Vick was established. No matter the buzz, Griffin is not.
I would love my NFL team to draft a quarterback most years somewhere between rounds four and seven. I agree you can never have enough quarterback options. However, if I went all-in like the Redskins did for RG3, I would have suspended such plans for now, especially with significant needs elsewhere.
And yes, there are teams always looking for passers and a future trade could net a sizable haul. The Falcons got that for Schaub. Same with the Patriots, for seventh-rounder Matt Cassel.
In both cases, it took at least three seasons to pull off a deal.
Griffin is not Shuler and drafting another quarterback is hardly catastrophic. In this case, it just seems unwise considering the trade investment, the aforementioned needs and adding even the slightest chance of damaging RG3's psyche.
Griffin is the better prospect; his star ultimately shines brighter than Cousins'. If we can't assume that, then what have we been talking about.
That does not mean he will be better in training camp. Or this season. If this comes to pass — and the goal is to win and win now — then what?
For the purposes of adding a future trade chip or rainy day planning, the Redskins did neither their sunniest asset nor flawed roster any favor by selecting another passer. They simply should have focused on enhancing the already chosen one.
(Photo credit: AP)