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Sunday morning Combine Report: Kirk Cousins sets himself apart

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Kirk Cousins has enjoyed a rather impressive 2012. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS -- The logjam of quarterbacks below Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Ryan Tannehill just got a little lighter, as Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins took offseason work with QB guru Chris Weinke and turned it into a very impressive set of throwing drills on Sunday morning. Cousins showed great touch and release -- for a guy with a supposed  smaller arm, he really zipped the ball, and had no notable issues with deeper routes.

On the five-yard in routes, Cousins displayed a minimum of mechanical extras -- you can tell that he's been working on making everything as efficient as possible. On the longer sideline routes, his throws didn't sail, receivers didn't have to slow down to catch them, and he appeared to have a very good understanding of timing it up with guys he'd never thrown to before. After a very solid Senior Bowl performance, Cousins is slowly but surely putting his reputation as a player who makes too many mistakes behind him -- at least, for now.

Cousins has a third-round grade per NFLDraftScout.com, but that may have changed. With so many NFL teams needing quarterbacks who can at least spot-start, and may be able to run an offense on a more permanent basis, what Cousins has done since the new year flipped over can only help his cause.

"It's a challenge, but it's understood when you sign up for an all-star game like that," Cousins said this week of his Senior Bowl experience. "From both the players and the coaches, it's understood that you're not going to be perfect, and it's hard to develop a chemistry between your center and receivers. Having to share time in practice with the reps makes it difficult. Because it's understood, you go into it with an open mind. All things considered, it was a great week."

That unfamiliarity with his targets, and the fact that Cousins adjusted to the process, lends weight to the notion that he's one of the smarter quarterbacks coming out of this draft class.

"When I look at the quarterbacks who have success year in and year out [in the NFL], I see quarterbacks who are great leaders, very accurate and are great decision-makers. I think those things are my three greatest strengths. I think across the board, those are the things that make a quarterback successful in the NFL over a long period of time."

However, there have been questions about Cousins' decision-making and consistency at the collegiate level. He threw four interceptions in a three-game stretch early in the 2011 season, and some experts believe that his tendency to play over his skill set can lead to some "interesting results." However, the offseason work and the results put forth should have the NFL taking a very hard second look at Kirk Cousins.

"I think the more time I can spend around those coaches, whether it be a workout or an interview or whatever it can be, they're going to come away liking what they see.

"I have nothing to hide. I'm an open book. I want coaches to come and open me up and figure out everything they can about me. The more they do that, the better it's going to help my situation. I'm grateful to be here. The more you take a look at me, the more there is to like."

So far, so good. If Cousins is able to build on his recent success with a strong performance at his Pro Day on March 14, he could very easily become a top 50 prospect.

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