2012 NFL Draft: Washington Redskins Select Michigan State's Kirk Cousins in Fourth Round

Cousins Could Challenge Robert Griffin III for the Starting Job

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COMMENTARY | Robert Griffin III is obviously the Washington Redskins' most athletic selection of the 2012 NFL Draft. He's incredibly elusive, shifty and made a name for himself with dramatic plays while at Baylor. However, that could be his downside, as running quarterbacks traditionally are prone to injury.

And one hit is all it takes.

Griffin III was Washington's first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, taken second overall. But the Redskins weren't done drafting quarterbacks, selecting Michigan State Spartans standout Kirk Cousins with their first pick of the fourth round Saturday.

Cousins -- a possible insurance policy for Griffin III -- could be a great bargain for Washington. He was passed in favor of quarterbacks like Arizona's Nick Foles, Arizona State's Brock Osweiler and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, each of whom were ranked lower than Cousins, according to most mock drafts and draft sites. He's the type of player who has had proved doubters wrong for years. He'll have to do it again, though.

Cousins is a typical pro-style quarterback that will fit well in the right system. He doesn't have the cannon arm of some quarterbacks, but he's steady, reliable and possess the leadership qualities teams look for. Incredibly poised for such a young player, Cousins will likely enter Washington with a veteran's mindset.

The Spartans' career-leader in passing yards, touchdown passes, passer rating and wins was incredibly stout at Michigan State, never sustaining an injury that kept him sidelined for an extended amount of time. As sure as the Spartans were on the field Saturday, Cousins was there -- ready and able to go.

Griffin III may not be as sturdy when compared to Cousins, which could be an issue. His style of play worked well in college, but it remains to be seen how he'll hold up against NFL defenders. The Big XII was a physical conference, but it could be argued that the Big Ten was more so.

Cousins, a three-time captain at Michigan State, doesn't have the fleet feet of Griffin III. But his intelligence and way of preparation is a distinct advantage. The Redskins have a good balance at the position with Griffin III being the flashy playmaker and Cousins as the pocket-passer -- a sort of throwback-style quarterback.

Washington's style of play, however, seems to be better suited for Griffin III. Cousins isn't a mobile quarterback, by definition. He's serviceable, able to escape the pocket under pressure, but nothing in comparison to Griffin III, who possesses world-class speed.

It seems a bit awkward that Washington would draft a quarterback like Cousins, who has the ability to compete for a starting job with a team desperate for some sort of steady player behind center. Griffin III, for all intents and purposes, was "it" for Washington. No need to take another quarterback in the draft, right?

Taking Cousins could be Washington's way of saying that it's not completely sold on Griffin III. Was it a risky pick at No. 2? Absolutely not. It could be debated that Griffin III was worthy of the No. 1 pick. But Andrew Luck was the No. 1 pick, taken by the Indianapolis Colts. He's closer to Cousins than he is to Griffin III when gauging style of play.

Luck is the prototypical pro-style quarterback in this year's draft. It's possible that Washington viewed Cousins as a lesser version and incredible valuable, economical pick. It's a gamble with Griffin III. He may have a higher ceiling that Cousins, but you can't ignore the potential for injury.

The Redskins got a solid insurance policy in Cousins, who will no doubt attempt to compete for the starting job that is all but Griffin III's at this point.

Adam Biggers has followed NCAA and NFL football for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

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