Kirk Cousins Gets an Unusually Generous Appraisal From Marquee Football Website

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Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Once the NFL Draft concludes, a lot of football sites shift toward rankings galore. One such site is PFF, a spot that has distinguished itself as a leader in football analytics.

Sam Monson recently published a piece that ranks the league’s QBs: “PFF Quarterback Rankings: All 32 starters ahead of the 2023 NFL season.” Somewhat surprisingly, Kirk Cousins ends up finishing in the top 10. More often than not, analysts magnify Cousins’ flaws, so the (reasonable) placement in the list likely raises some eyebrows.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass as guard Oli Udoh (74) blocks and Carolina Panthers defensive end DaQuan Jones (90) pressures in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The constantly-controversial QB finds himself at 9th overall. Take a look at Monson’s reasoning for the placement:

Cousins is probably at the top of the second tier of quarterbacks — those who you can win with but are unlikely to transform a team into a contender simply by their presence. Cousins has earned a PFF passing grade of at least 77.7 every season in Minnesota. He is an exceptionally accurate passer with plenty of big plays in his arsenal who maybe lacks that transcendent, intangible talent that every team chases at the position.

Monson is certainly correct about the accuracy. Cousins really does do an excellent job at putting the football in a good spot. Very sneakily, Cousins has one of the best arms in the NFL. He doesn’t have the same power as some, but he’s actually quite good at throwing the deep ball. And, of course, anything in the short to intermediate is pretty routine for Mr. Cousins.

Even more wild is that Monson’s rankings suggest Cousins is the second-best QB in the NFC:

Even the most ardent Kirk Cousins defenders would have a tough time arguing that he’s better than Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia’s young quarterback played better than Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl. Yes, the Chiefs won and Mahomes was MVP, but Hurts was dynamic while Mahomes was merely good.

In 2022, Hurts finished as a second-team All Pro. He finished second in MVP voting and third for Offensive Player of the Year (which may have gone to someone you’ve heard of). After 11 seasons in the NFL, Kirk Cousins has failed to make either All-Pro team or be a contender for one of the league’s major awards.

Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass against Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the second quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Under Kevin O’Connell in 2022, Kirk Cousins had reasonably robust numbers. He finished his season with 4547 yards to go alongside 29 touchdowns. The 14 interceptions aren’t ideal, but the 8 game-winning drives certainly are. During the regular season, Cousins was absolutely clutch, regularly driving his team down the field to get the points they needed to get the win.

Put simply, there’s no way Minnesota gets anywhere close to 13 wins unless Cousins finds a way to consistently conquer the pressure-packed moment. However, the fateful 4th & 8 in the playoffs was an insanely poor decision, so Cousins will need to keep overcoming doubt as the 2023 season nears.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is open to keeping Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Per the GM, the previous salary cap shenanigans was mostly a move to help in the immediate: “Sometimes you come to a place where you decide, ‘Hey, let’s talk later. This is a solution for now.’ That’s all that’s happened.”

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Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The solution he referenced was the salary cap tomfoolery that converted $20 million of Cousins’ hit into a signing bonus. The GM relied on the clever maneuver to carve out an added $16 million in room for 2023. The short-term solution, according to Adofo-Mensah, doesn’t preclude the possibility of being able to “talk later.”

Cousins, 35 in August, carries a $20,250,000 cap charge in 2023. Don’t be shocked if there’s an extension for #8 before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrive in Week 1.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.