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Round 4, Pick 102
If you thought Shanahan received flak following his third-round pick, multiply that by about 15 to get the sort of criticism the coach received after selecting Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round.
Why would he waste a pick on a third-string quarterback? The Redskins just took a quarterback; why do they need another? Does Shanahan want a quarterback battle in Washington? What is Cousins expected to do there? Doesn't the team have plenty of other needs? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
And I'll be the first to admit that I was a little skeptical of the pick initially myself. But I'll also admit that it didn't take me long to warm up to the idea and understand what Shanahan and the front office were thinking.
For starters, Kirk Cousins was arguably the best player available by the time the Redskins picked at 102. Although the team did have other areas of concern, it's hard to fault a draft strategy that focuses on bringing in the best talent remaining amongst a large crop.
Second, every team needs a backup quarterback. And while some teams may not invest much in their No. 2, Shanahan obviously had other plans.
And that brings us to the third point. There wasn't any doubt that Robert Griffin III was the new starting quarterback in Washington. None. But given his style of play and having already had a serious knee injury in college, Shanahan wanted to equip himself with a good insurance policy.
Now that the season is over, you'd be hard-pressed to find one Redskins fan that questions that fourth-round draft selection Mike Shanahan made eight months ago.
When Griffin left the game against Atlanta with a concussion, Cousins stepped in under a huge spotlight and tossed a perfect touchdown to Santana Moss. Despite his two interceptions and the loss (to one of the top teams in the conference by just a touchdown), Cousins would receive deserved support from the fanbase.
Cousins' second look would come against the Baltimore Ravens when Griffin left the game with a vicious knee injury. Once again he was on a big stage and asked to deliver during a very tough spot. Cousins came in, threw a touchdown pass and then went on to convert the game-tying two-point conversion to send the game into overtime and eventually come out with the win. Cousins helped to keep Redskins' playoff hopes alive.
Then, with Griffin's knee injury still a factor, Cousins would receive the starting nod against the Cleveland Browns the following week.
Cousins had a few hiccups in his first career start, making Redskins fans sweat a little bit before showcasing himself as a guy that coaches and fans could trust. Leading the Redskins to victory (another must-win scenario), Cousins threw for 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
For the season, Cousins threw for 466 yards on 33-of-48 passing with four touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of nearly 102.