Q. What was your opinion of Kirk Cousins going into the interview, and where do you project him to go?
JON GRUDEN: We got to know Cousins well in the Outback Bowl. Mike Tirico and I did the Outback Bowl, and we spent a lot of time with Michigan State and with Cousins specifically. We got to see him practice. We had him down here at the FFCA headquarters twice. What you’re getting is a three‑time team captain at Michigan State, so that tells you what type of leader he is. He does have, I think, NFL prototype size. He’s in a very good offense at Michigan State. They ask him to do a lot of different things. He’s under the center, he’s in the shotgun, there’s a two‑back attack, there’s a no‑back attack. And quietly Michigan State has become one of the premier football programs in college football. They’re the winningest team in the Big Ten over the last three years.
So you’re getting a winner. When you look at B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, who are outstanding receivers at Michigan State, you can see why. They’ve got the trigger in Cousins. I see him going in the second round, and I think he’s got a very bright future in the NFL because he’s all business all the time. He’s a meticulous preparation freak. I think he’s got very good athletic ability, and he’s got a lot of experience as a starting quarterback in a big arena.
Q. I’m wondering if you can compare this year’s group (of quarterbacks) that you evaluated to last year’s, especially considering the impact they made in the league, and do you see a second‑ or third‑round guy that you can kind of compare to Andy Dalton?
JON GRUDEN: Well, I think this year is a little bit deeper. You never expect quarterbacks to come in as rookies, especially in a lockout year, and do what Cam Newton did; 4,000 yards passing, 700 yards rushing has never happened ever, let alone by a rookie in a lockout season. Andy Dalton, 20 touchdown passes, taking a team to the playoffs, and he squares off against TJ Yates, a rookie from North Carolina. I don’t remember 60 rookie starts at the quarterback position ever since the NFL merger, so it would be hard to duplicate that.
But I do think this year’s crop of quarterbacks is very deep. We had 10 young men in here, I think guys in the second round. We already talked about Kirk Cousins. Brandon Weeden’s name has come up. I think there’s some interesting other quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler, a junior at Arizona State, 6’7″ with a rocket arm and better‑than‑average mobility. I think there’s some really interesting young quarterbacks in this draft, and those are three of them.
Q. If you were doing a draft board with quarterbacks beyond Luck, Griffin and Tannehill, who would you rank four through six among Weeden, Cousins, Foles, Osweiler, whatever.
JON GRUDEN: That’ll cost you $500. I can’t reveal my draft board before the draft. I’m just kidding you. I’ll tell you, that’s a great question. For all the people that rank quarterbacks and rank running backs and rank wide receivers, I think it’s great. But it depends on what system you’re going to run. It depends on what supporting cast you have. It depends on a lot of different factors, and where you play sometimes, as well.
But I love Brandon Weeden. I think if you want a quarterback that’s tough as hell, that’s a winner, remember, Weeden already beat Nick Foles in a Bowl game two years ago, he beat Robert Griffin 59 to 24, he beat Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, he beat Landry Jones, he beat Tannehill. I like Weeden as you can tell. I would find something for him to do.
I like Kirk Cousins at Michigan State. I would look forward to working with him. I like all of these players, but I like Weeden. I think in the next tier, I really like Kirk Cousins, and there’s something about Russell Wilson at Wisconsin that I think has already been proven. He’s special, he’s talented, and he’s going to make it.
Q. Back on Kirk Cousins, I was wondering if he reminded you of anyone in the NFL now, and what kind of challenges do you think he faces?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t know who he reminds me of. He reminds me of ‑‑ that’s a tough question off the top of my head. He just reminds me of guys that play on Sunday for a living. That’s the kind of kid he is. That’s the serious background that he’s had. That’s the future that he wants. He’s a self‑starter. He’s one of those kids that just won’t take no for an answer. He’s going to be successful.
He wasn’t a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. He flourished at Michigan State. He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten faster, he’s become much more masterful at the quarterback position. I think if he gets with the right group of guys, he can really take off and enjoy great success.