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Insuring RGIII is a smart move by the Redskins

Tuesday - 5/1/2012, 4:50pm  ET

cousins.jpeg
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins speaks during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Cousins is one of 16 National Football Foundation scholar-athletes of 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Rob Woodfork, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - At a time where Redskins Nation is still celebrating the arrival of Robert Griffin III to Washington, the Skins' 4th round pick has stolen some of the attention. Kirk Cousins, a fellow quarterback, was taken early in Round 4 with the 102nd overall choice.

When this pick first went down, I was a bit surprised but I didn't think much of it. Then the funniest thing happened over the next 48 hours.

People were freaking out over it.

"Moronic", said Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. Skip Bayless (for whatever that's worth) said it undermines RGIII as the starter.

Foolishness like this implies something far more nefarious of Coach Mike Shanahan's intentions.

Get a grip, folks.

Maybe the Redskins haven't forgotten just how dreadful the quarterback play was last season. Perhaps they were paying attention when the Bears and the Colts who struggled through a lost 2011 season without their starting QB. Or how the Texans advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs because they were wise enough to take a good young QB named T.J. Yates in Round 5 of last year's draft.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one. Drafting Cousins is a depth move, not some evil plot to make RGIII's job harder.

And even if it was, in my book, if RGIII can't beat out a 4th round pick that went exactly 100 selections after he did in the draft, then he's not worth the bounty of picks the team surrendered to take him 2nd overall.

If RGIII can only earn a starting spot in Washington competing against a man simply known as "The Human Turnover" (Rex Grossman), then the team did need to draft another young QB.

Given my feelings on RGIII, you know I believe he's not only OK with competition. He's fueled by it.

And to those who say the team should have drafted more of a position of need, the answer is yes and no.

Yes, you probably have a greater need at linebacker or defensive back. But one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the NFL draft is going down the line and picking for need. Any personnel guy worth his salt will tell you: take the best player available. If we're to take Mike Shanahan at his word, they had a 2nd round grade on Cousins, and had him ranked as the 3rd QB in this draft behind Andrew Luck and RGIII.

In Round 4, that's tremendous value. Especially when you consider the value of the backup QB vs. a backup position player.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock (whom I religiously watch for my draft analysis) summed up the situation better than anyone.

"To me it's an insurance policy that you develop," Mayock said. "And if he puts the baseball cap on for four years, and never gets to the field, that's great. However, year three, if (RGIII) goes down--and he's going to take a lot of hits, RGIII's going to take a lot of hits--if he goes down year three, you've got a developed quarterback behind him ready to go.

There's no greater depth need for me on any team than the backup quarterback."

Another proponent of the deal, former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, said on NFL Network that in Round 4, you've only got about a 25 percent chance of finding a starter. So with those odds (and having another 4th round pick at your disposal), why not get a solid backup QB like Cousins who ranks that highly on your board instead of a backup linebacker or backup lineman that doesn't rate quite as high?

To quote another former Redskin, Joe Gibbs once said the most important position on your team is quarterback, and the 2nd most important position on your team is backup quarterback. As I said last week, the only thing I see derailing RGIII is injury. Given the investment in him, it makes sense to insure it well.

Think of it this way: if you went all in on a Hummer or a Range Rover, and stretched yourself thin financially to get it, wouldn't you get good insurance for it? Or would you get the cut-rate stuff and hope you never have to put in a claim for the 5-10 years you drive the vehicle?

Look, time will tell if this ends up being a good move or bad move. Having Cousins could create a QB controversy that seems all too familiar in this town. Or RGIII could be an iron man, playing well all along, and keeping Cousins on the bench for good.

Whether you use insurance or not, the worst-case scenario is you paid for peace of mind. And for me, there's no greater peace of mind than knowing the Redskins will have a viable alternative to "Wrecks" Grossman on their depth chart.

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