Normally, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden does not say a lot of things while on ESPN that are worth retaining.
Whenever Gruden starts off a sentence with, “You wanna talk about a guy … ” it usually means the former coach is about to inflate somebody like he was setting up his friend with the Elephant Man. Gruden is not into criticizing anyone on the air, mostly because he probably will return to coaching when the right opportunity arises. It does not make any sense for him to anger a potential employer, or player he might coach, in front of a national audience.
However, Gruden might be reaching when it comes to recent praise of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Jon Gruden on ESPN: "If I were a coach, I'd offer a first-round pick to the Redskins to get Kirk Cousins on my team."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2013
The statement is funny for several reasons.
First of all, Gruden was not known for his ability to develop young quarterbacks as a coach. Gruden turned around the career of Rich Gannon, who was 37 years old when he led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance against Tampa Bay (who snagged Gruden the previous offseason) during the 2002 season. When Gruden was in Tampa, his veteran quarterbacks included Brad Johnson, Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia. Sure, Gruden played Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski – after injuries to starters – but he was never patient enough to develop a young quarterback.
In addition, which NFL team would give up a first-round pick for an unproven commodity? Former New England quarterback Matt Cassel proved to everybody that if a team goes all in on a player with limited NFL experience, the risk does not always outweigh the reward. Ask Kansas City how that turns out.
Cousins, a fourth-round pick in 2012, played well when Robert Griffin III missed a game last season due to a knee injury. The backup completed 26-of-37 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns during a 38-21 victory against Cleveland. If an NFL team offered a first-round pick for Cousins, it would mean they believed he was better than every quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft class, which could include Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. That just does not seem likely, considering NFL teams had a chance to just take Cousins last year and passed until Washington took him with pick No. 102.
Maybe if Gruden returns to the sidelines he could trade that first-round pick for Cousins, assuming the coach does not convince Gannon to come out of retirement first.