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Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Boise State's Kellen Moore Among Most Underestimated NFL Newcomers

They Were Both Great College QBs, but Not Many Feel They Have What it Takes to Succeed in NFL

Yahoo Contributor Network

Kirk Cousins and Kellen Moore have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

Moore, a former star quarterback at Boise State, is perceived as just that -- a former star. His NCAA-record 50 wins with the Broncos were impressive, to say the least. He wasn't taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the Detroit Lions took a chance and signed him as a free agent.

What he lacks in size (6-feet, 200 pounds), he more than makes up for with his "it" factor. That "it" factor put Moore in the Heisman Trophy conversation the past two years. That "it" factor made him college football's career-leader in wins.

Moore is a young player with so much talent. However, some weren't sure about his potential in the professional ranks. He'll be a back up to Lions quarterback Matt Stafford. As long as Stafford is healthy, Moore's status with Detroit probably won't change. But that doesn't mean he won't find success with another team or become a steady No. 2 behind the Lions' franchise signal-caller.

Now, Moore was a higher-profile quarterback than Cousins. But they're cut from a familiar mold, one that produces winners.

Cousins left Michigan State as its career-leader in wins. While his 27-12 record pales in comparison to Moore's mark of 50-3, it's respectable considering the fact that Cousins faced an arguably tougher docket of opponents in the Big Ten.

But like Moore, Cousins is looked at as a former great college quarterback. The Spartans' leader in nearly every passing-related category was taken in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He's in line behind the club's top overall pick, Baylor's Robert Griffin III, who was the second player (and second quarterback) taken in the 2012 draft.

Cousins' pro-style suits the NFL. And it suited what the Redskins were looking for as well. Sure, they couldn't pass on Griffin III -- what team would? But Cousins isn't exactly a throw-in.

""Robert came from more of a spread system (at Baylor), where he didn't have as many progression reads," Washington quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur said. "Kirk comes from more of a pro-style offense. Some of the stuff he did in college is the same as what we do here.

LaFleur later added: "Kirk is more of a pocket passer who runs the play as designed, where Robert makes plays you can't account for as a defensive coach.

"Both of those guys have all the tangibles you look for. Both of them have the leadership skills, and they're both very intelligent. They both handle themselves the right way, and they're great leaders. They're everything you want in a quarterback."

Lions GM Martin Mayhew shared a similar thought about Moore, who like Cousins, was praised for his mental approach to the game.

"The winningest quarterback ever, 50-3. The guy is very talented (and a) very cerebral quarterback and understands the game, son of a coach," Mayhew said. "He has a good arm and is very accurate. The guy is very talented and we were very fortunate to be able to get him."

Two incredibly smart quarterbacks, though different, are in many ways the same. Two different styles, sure. Two different circumstances in college, yes. But it's hard to deny the fact that two NFL teams shared nearly identical feelings about them.

Don't forget, both aren't projected to be anything more than career back ups with their current team. Cousins may have a better chance at earning a No. 1 role since Griffin III isn't a proven veteran like Stafford is in Detroit.

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

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