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Cousins' best attributes are leadership, intangibles

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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Posted Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:37 a.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

Second of a six-part series

Each day during the Scouting Combine through Tuesday, we'll feature Nolan Nawrocki's in-depth scouting report of a top draft prospect.

QB Kirk Cousins, #8
Michigan State | Grade: 5.65
Ht:
6-2 5/8 | Wt: 214 | Sp: 4.87 | Arm: 31 3/4 | Hand: 9 7/8 | Wing: 73 5/8

Notes: Son of a minister. Also played baseball (pitcher) and basketball as a Michigan prep. Suffered a broken ankle as a high school junior. Redshirted in 2007. Appeared in five games in '08 as Brian Hoyer's backup, completing 32-of-43 pass attempts (62 percent) for 310 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Started 12-of-13 games in '09 and passed 198-328-2680-19-9 (60.4). Did not start against Illinois (right ankle). Made all 13 starts in '10, totaling 226-338-2825-20-10 (66.9) despite battling a sprained left ankle and sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder beginning in mid-October. Set the school record for single-season TD passes in '11 after throwing for 267-419-3,316-25-10 (63.7) in 14 starts. A three-time captain, Cousins was only the second sophomore captain in school history. Leaves as MSU's career record holder in TD passes (66), passing yards (9,131) and passing efficiency (146.1 rating). Produced a 27-12 record in 39 career starts, finishing as the winningest quarterback in Spartan history. Graduated in December with a kinesiology degree.

Positives: Rare intangibles and leadership ability. Can rally a huddle and inspire a locker room when the chips are down. Outstanding work habits. Can line up and direct an offense — knows the responsibility of every player on the field. Very professional approach — takes pride in his craft, pays attention to small details and is meticulous in his preparation. Film junkie. Clean footwork — experienced in a pro-style offense working under center and from the gun. Quick to set and throw. Good release quickness — showed improvement as the season progressed and did not take a sack in the last five games. Sells play-action and can identify matchups and find open receivers. Effective on bootlegs and rollouts. Tough and gritty. Stands in the face of the rush and delivers. Very accurate short-to-intermediate touch passer — good timing, touch and placement. Produced 3-0 career record vs. archrival Michigan and rose to the occasion on big stages.

Negatives: Has a narrow frame susceptible to taking a pounding. Can be too cerebral and mechanical with his reads — has displayed a tendency to overthink the game, resulting in holding the ball too long. Average ball velocity — ball will flutter and appear to die outside the numbers if he cannot step into it. Lacks ideal arm talent to rip it deep. Not a scrambler and cannot improvise or create many plays when the pocket moves. Many throws are simple and predetermined.

Summary: Has the intangibles and intelligence to develop into a highly efficient, dink-and-dunk, rhythm passer. Draws semblances to 49ers QB Alex Smith and must continue developing physically to survive the toll of an NFL season. Could thrive with crisp coaching and confidence-building play-calling in a precision passing game such as that of the Texans, Redskins, Patriots or 49ers.

NFL projection: Top-50 pick.

Nolan Nawrocki's 2012 Draft Preview book, with scouting reports on approximately 500 prospects, will go on sale March 27 at bookstores everywhere. It also can be preordered at PFWstore.com either individually or as part of a combo-pack with the 2012 Draft Guide magazine, which goes on sale March 6.

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