Commanders Predicted to Draft Another Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins

Getty The Washington Commanders are predicted to draft a quarterback who can be another Kirk Cousins.

It’s been more than a minute since Kirk Cousins and the Washington Commanders parted ways, but the team is predicted to take a quarterback who compares favorably to its former starter with the second pick in the 2024 NFL draft, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

That’s who Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus believes will hear his name called when the Commanders make their first selection on Thursday, April 25. Monson noted how “from the very outset of the draft process, there has been talk that the NFL likes J.J. McCarthy more than the public or the media. In a year where all of the prospects outside of Williams have their concerns, I’ll buy that smoke and say Washington grabs the guy with NFL tape.”

McCarthy having NFL-caliber film fits a credible comparison to Cousins made by ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky: “McCarthy and Cousins play with a high level of conviction and routinely make difficult throws from the pocket look easier than they should. The former Michigan quarterback has his eyes and arm tied to his feet on when and where to throw the ball.”

A pro-ready quarterback possessing all of the big-league-ready mechanics would accelerate the Commanders’ rebuild. It’s what Cousins did when he took the starting job from Robert Griffin III in 2014 and then led Washington to the playoffs and back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and ’16.

Kirk Cousins Comparisons Should Work for Commanders

The comparison between Cousins and McCarthy is shared Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd. He explained on “The Herd,” at the 2:36 mark, how “if you look at J.J. Mccarthy and Kirk Cousins, last two years of college — and back then Michigan state was a running team with Le’Veon Bell, if I recall — the exact same stats. Kirk Cousins and J.J. McCarthy are the same, McCarthy, just more mobile.”

Cousins has his critics, but fans of Washington ought to have fond memories of the 35-year-old passer who will now ply his trade with the Atlanta Falcons by way of the Minnesota Vikings.

Being able to stand in the pocket and make all the throws necessary at this level helped Cousins transform Washington’s offense. So did his ability to spread the ball around among multiple receivers.

Those things translated to three-straight 4,000-yard seasons. They were the first of eight 4,000-yard campaigns in Cousins’ prolific career.

Cousins has been dominant off of play action, amassing over 1100 yards on these plays in four seasons with the Vikings, per Pro Football Reference. His success in the play-action game owes a lot to Cousins’ ability to “go either side, hard to defend..even when you’re on him..,” according to

McCarthy has also dominated as a play-action passer. Nobody graded better in the category back in 2022, per PFF College.

His overall numbers were even better last season, when McCarthy led the Wolverines to a national championship. He completed 72.3 percent of his passes and had a QB rating of 167.4.

McCarthy’s 2,991 yards and 22 touchdowns through the air hardly compare to the top prospects in this class. McCarthy dealt in wins, victories borne from efficient football.

It’s one reason why No. 9’s better comparison might be another Washington QB1.

Alex Smith a Better Comparison for J.J. McCarthy

McCarthy usually gets adorned with the divisive label of a so-called “game manager.” Yet, as one unnamed “veteran NFL personnel evaluator” told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, “McCarthy ‘validated some things’ with ‘one of the best pro days I’ve seen as a passer. Movement ability, arm talent, laying the football, throwing off-platform. He did it all [at his pro day].'”

The game-manager moniker is often unwanted, but just as often misunderstood. It did former San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington quarterback Alex Smith no harm.

McCarthy is reminiscent of Smith, according to Bucky Brooks. He told the NFL on FOX Podcast, “the intangibles are right, the winning pedigree is right. The talent you see. He is very similar, to me, to Alex Smith when Alex Smith was coming out of Utah and the way that Alex Smith played when he got with Jim Harbaugh.”

The reference to Jim Harbaugh is key because of his presence as McCarthy’s head coach at Michigan. Harbaugh rescued Smith’s career when he took charge of the 49ers in 2011.

Smith protected the football and became efficient on the move and off of play action. Three Pro Bowls and a 4,000-yard season followed with the Chiefs.

A gruesome leg injury against the Houston Texans in 2018 wrecked Smith’s career in Washington. He returned two years later and rekindled the game-manager magic to win the NFC East under Ron Rivera in 2020.

McCarthy could have the same impact for Rivera’s successor Dan Quinn.

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