When the Redskins used a fourth-round—ask the Seattle Seahawks, who took K.J. Wright in the fourth round last year, or the Jacksonville Jaguars who took Cecil Shorts, how valuable that pick can be—pick on Cousins in this year's draft, it was a move that was met with loads of criticism.
The 'Skins had already taken Robert Griffin III, the projected savior at the QB position. After a season in which they had won just five games, there were still plenty of holes to fill.
Why waste a treasured pick by taking a backup?
Well, this is why.
After Griffin went out with a nasty knee injury last week and couldn't "Leftwich it" on the final drive, Cousins came in and quietly completed both of his passes—including a touchdown to Pierre Garcon—and then ran in the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime, where Washington would win.
All the rookie did was complete 26 of his 37 throws for 329 yards, two scores and a pick for a QB rating of 104.4. He also showed some flashes of RGIII (OK, not really...OK, not at all) with three carries for 22 yards.
Cousins started off slow, but he quickly settled in and drew rave reviews for his play from ESPN's Trey Wingo:
Since that 0/3 INT start? Kirk Cousins is 9/14 for 127 yards and a 54 yard TD. Impressive— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 16, 2012
And from NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah:
Kirk Cousins looks very comfortable for his first NFL start. He has clearly out-classed Brandon Weeden. #StatementSunday— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 16, 2012
The Redskins are now in a very good situation.
On one hand, they can keep Cousins around and continue to develop him while he backs up RGIII, who tends to play with a little more reckless abandon than the people of Washington D.C. probably like.
On the other, they can shop him in the offseason. Just like so many other rookie QBs this year, Cousins is proving that he has a bright future ahead of him. His value is skyrocketing and there's no question that teams will come calling (oh hello there, New York Jets).
It's pretty safe to say that no one is criticizing that draft pick anymore.