Kirk Cousins was expected to be taken in the early-middle rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft by a team looking for a starting quarterback. No one thought that team would be the same one that traded up to No. 2 overall to select Robert Griffin III.
When the Redskins selected Cousins in the fourth round (No. 102 overall), analysts began to cry that the Redskins had created a quarterback controversy. After a few days, the rumor mill stirred up the explanation that Cousins was too good of a value in the fourth and he would be used as trade bait down the line (a la Kevin Kolb).
This has been the dominant explanation ever since, and fans (I was guilty also!) have simply come to accept this theory. I went back and reexamined the situation and have come up with three big reasons why Cousins is not trade bait for the Redskins.
The dominant theory circling NFL communities is that the Washington Redskins drafted Kirk Cousins to build him up and then trade him away.
This is a business model that has many teams intrigued after the blockbuster trade the Eagles pulled off with the Cardinals.
After molding a potential franchise quarterback, the Eagles traded Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick. The mistake many fans are making is looking at the end result and assuming that was the Eagles' plan all along.
Kevin Kolb was drafted in 2007 to be the eventual successor to Donovan McNabb's kingdom in Philadelphia. Andy Reid fell in love with Kolb's potential as a West-Coast quarterback and drafted him with the intention of making Kolb the face of the franchise. It was not until Michael Vick entered the picture that plans began to change for Kolb.
Now, I am not saying the Mike Shanahan believes Kirk Cousins will one day be the face of the Washington Redskins. At the same time, this idea that the Redskins are following the Eagles' quarterback trade-book needs to be put to rest, because it was not a plan!
The Eagles had never thought about trading Kolb until 2010 when they realized there was a potential market.
The "Kevin Kolb" trade model was a lucky situation for the Eagles, not some new way breeding quarterbacks. So, if there is no "Kolb Model" to follow, we must revisit the original question, "Why was Cousins drafted by the Redskins?"
Kirk Cousins was taken exactly 100 picks after Robert Griffin III, in the early-half of the fourth round. While this not a typical spot for franchise quarterbacks, it's also not a spot for future trade bait.
If we were to neglect the first point and assume the Redskins were following the "Kolb Model," then why take Cousins in the fourth?
The entire premise of building future trade bait is the same as with stocks: buy low and sell high. Yet, Cousins was selected in the fourth, hardly making him a buy-low commodity.
A better example of a buy-low player is Matt Flynn. Flynn was drafted in the seventh round in 2008 with the intention of being sat behind Aaron Rodgers and learning the offense. After four long years, Flynn got his shot at the end of the 2011 season and lit the world on fire against the Detroit Lions.
Now, Green Bay was unable to trade Flynn because they mishandled his contract and were forced to watch him walk to Seattle. However, the Packers had followed the model and developed a cheap prospect into a worthwhile asset.
If the Redskins intended to sell high on Cousins, they would have selected him in the later rounds of the draft. The only way to sell high at this point would be to develop Cousins into an asset worthy of third-round pick or higher. But in order to increase Cousins' value, he will need real-time production, and a man named RG3 stands in his way.
The final reason is time.
Developing a prospect into a quarterback teams are willing to trade for takes several years, and Shanahan does not have that time.
If we look at any of the recent quarterbacks who have been traded for or coveted in free agency, they all have one thing in common: proven potential.
Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn both flashed greatness for their teams and were rewarded in the offseason by other teams. However, getting to that point took a minimum of four years, as each player learned the offense and waited for an opportunity.
This is a time luxury that Mike Shanahan does not have.
Shanahan has two years left on his contract and a renewal will likely be decided by RG3's success. Mike Shanahan is aware of this and therefore would not waste a fourth-round pick on a player who he may not have the opportunity to develop into trade bait.
Turning later-round quarterbacks into valued assets takes the time and patience that comes from winning franchises. The Packers and Eagles have entrenched and proven personnel, and therefore, have more freedom to operate. Mike Shanahan is doing everything he can to turn the Washington Redskins into a winning franchise again, but he is not there yet.
Without the time to develop Cousins into a coveted quarterback, Shanahan must have a different plan up his sleeve.
I do not believe that Cousins is a threat to RG3's job, but he is not a five-year project either. We need to forget the trade bait theory and figure out what Cousins true purpose in D.C. is.