Scouting Report: Kirk Cousins, QB Michigan State

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I've been blessed with the opportunity of an internship with New Era Scouting. One of my first assignments there was to pick a quarterback from the 2012 class and write a scouting report about him. My first instincts was to jump all over Matt Barkley and run with him. But I realized I would be able to produce more original analysis and would learn more if I picked a QB I didn't know much about.

So I selected Kirk Cousins, QB out of Michigan State. The senior was selected All-Big Ten Second Team for the 2011 season, after leading the 17th-ranked Spartans to a 10-3 record, including wins over 10th-ranked Wisconsin and 13th-ranked Michigan. He passed for 3,016 yards, with 24 TD and only 7 INT. He has 8,831 yards in his career, and has thrown 65 TD, compared to 27 INT.

At New Era Scouting, he's the eighth-ranked QB in this class. He's the ninth-ranked signal-caller at both CBS Sports and Walter Football, and Mocking the Draft has him at the twelfth spot (as of 9/21/11). Most places are projecting him for the 3rd/4th round range at this point.

One of the problems with choosing Cousins was that there is almost ZERO video of him on the internets. I could only find this one, on the ever-amazing Draft Breakdown.

Mechanics/Decision-Making

Drops back with ease. Experienced taking snaps under center and from shotgun, and footwork with both is polished, smooth, and balanced.

Quick release. Throws from a 3/4 angle sometimes that could lead to tipped passes at the next level. Will throw off his back foot or falling backwards, especially when throwing to his left. Has developed a habit of tapping the ball with his left hand before throwing, a tell he would do well to eliminate. Follows through across his body.

Lets the ball hang lower when he’s scrambling, leading to a longer windup and delivery on the move, which affects his accuracy and the quickness of his release. Doesn’t always reset his feet before throwing on the move.

Is prone to rash decisions and trying to "gun it in there", resulting in turnovers or pointless incompletions. Doesn’t always know when to throw it away and play for the next down, and will take a sack or force a throw for an interception.

Pocket Awareness/Poise

Calm and comfortable in the pocket. Typically handles edge pressure well and steps up efficiently. Gets panicky with interior pressure. Tough and willing to take a hit.

Keeps his eyes downfield and capable of extending a play with his legs. While in the pocket, most plays are "one-read and checkdown", though he isn't incapable of making multiple reads, especially on the move.

Accuracy/Arm Strength

Generally good accuracy on short and intermediate routes. The Spartans' offense calls for a lot of quick, short throws, so he doesn't have to push the ball downfield much. When he does, his accuracy is questionable-to-terrible beyond 20+ yards.

Good zip on short throws across the middle, but doesn't have the arm strength to power the ball across the field to the sideline. His deep balls tend to float, perhaps in part because he struggles to keep a tight spiral.

Athleticism/Mobility

A 6'3"/202, he could do to add at least 20 pounds. Increased upper body strength would improve the zip on his deep balls. Isn't an elite athlete but can extend plays with his feet without being a scrambler, per se. Fairly elusive in the pocket and on bootlegs.

Overall

A talented, athletic kid with potential. Experience in a pro-style offense, plus polished mechanics and leadership personality will probably mean a team is willing to overdraft him. But he would make an excellent 3rd-4th round developmental pick where he can sit behind an established vet, build muscle, and refine his game for a couple years.

* * * * *

As far as the Seahawks are concerned, Cousins might be a decent option in the fourth round or so. He is definitely not a player that any team wants to attach their future hopes to right now. He needs a lot of work with an NFL staff. However, he has some tools that would translate well to the next level. By all accounts, he's a natural-born leader and a hard worker.

At this point, he doesn't protect the football well enough to fit in with a PC-type QB profile, despite the numbers (7 INT this year, and 27 in his career). A lot of his better performances this year have come against decidedly sub-par competition, and he's had meh to bad games against some of the better opponents he's faced (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State).

He is an effective and experienced play-action passer, and would do well supported by a powerful running game. That sounds a lot like Seattle, but he's more of a buy-low, less-refined, lower-upside Matt Barkley.

All things considered, he's an interesting guy to keep an eye on, but I'd be pretty surprised to see him in the Beloved Blue.

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