Colin Kaepernick at a glance

April 21st, 2011 | Written by Kip Earlywine

The highlights haven't even started yet and I'm already entertained

Posted by Kip Earlywine

Highlights:

Strengths:

  • Highly mobile with excellent acceleration and top speed
  • Good running instincts
  • Excellent pocket awareness
  • Evasive both inside the pocket and outside it
  • Gaudy career total statistics
  • Accuracy took a big step forward in 2010 (65%)
  • Low Interception totals
  • Lightning fast arm speed (throws 95 mph and was drafted as a pitcher)
  • Showed some capability of checking more than one read
  • Mechanics improved as the season went on
  • Very nice zip on passes short, middle and deep
  • Great leadership, intangibles, coach-ability, character, hard-worker
  • Ideal “wholesome” face of the franchise just like Jake Locker
  • Some big time individual performances against quality competition
  • Tons of college level experience
  • Playmaker with speed that rivals or even exceeds Newton and Locker
  • Remarkably durable in college (just one injury: ankle in ’08)
  • Very high ceiling

Weaknesses:

  • Worrisome “hitch” in his throwing motion, though in some games it wasn’t there (!)
  • Sometimes struggles with touch on short throws
  • Played in a “Pistol” offense, not much under-center experience
  • Only checks 2nd read as a last resort, panics and takes off too much and too early
  • Won’t get to run for 1000 yards a year in the pros
  • Weak overall competition (WAC conference)
  • Skinny Frame, needs to add some bulk… I worry about durability at the next level
  • Comically bad ball security (holds the ball almost like “shake weights” when running)
  • Runs with high center of gravity
  • Needs to learn a lot; not likely to contribute immediately

Impressions:

Its not surprising to me our front office has a glimmer in the eye for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  Kaepernick reminds me a lot of emerging phenom Josh Freeman, just in a skinnier body.  Both are guys who build their game off of running the ball to open up the pass, and throw well on the move.  The thing that makes Freeman a special talent is his sometimes ridiculous ability to sense and avoid pressure in the pocket, and though Kaepernick isn’t playing against the same caliber of opponents, that same trait is there, and it will serve him well in the NFL.  Pete Carroll saw Freeman work his magic against the Seahawks last season.  I wouldn’t doubt if he had called up John Schneider right after that game and said “I want a quarterback like that.”  Then again, who wouldn’t?

Colin Kaepernick can be a quarterback like that.  But it would probably take a least a couple years for him to reach that level.  He needs to learn the pro-style offense, and he needs to be more disciplined on making reads, running the ball less, staying calm under pressure and holding the ball properly when he does run.  You could say a lot of those same things about Jake Locker, except Locker doesn’t need to add weight and looks closer to being ready in my opinion. So in a way, you could say that Kaepernick is somewhat of a poor-man’s Jake Locker.  I’d be a little surprised if Kaepernick leaves the board before Locker does.

I recently read on Seahawks.net that “Seattle Seahawks” is an anagram for “Weak-ass athletes.”  I decided to take a look at “Colin Kaepernick” and see what anagrams it produced, and would you believe it, one of the results was “Inane Locker pick.”  Anagrams are such jerks.

45 Responses to “Colin Kaepernick at a glance”

  1. Al says:

    If we’re going for a ‘tier 2′ QB then I’d definitely be more excited about an athletic strong-armed project like Kaepernick than a short-range game manager. My concern about taking on such a project, however, would be uncertainty about the length of rookie contracts and RFA status. It would be pretty rough to develop a player for 2 – 3 years only for them to decide to leave at the end of their first contract. Is this a legitimate concern?

  2. Derek says:

    I have seen a lot of mock drafts recently with a run on QBs happening in the late first round. If this were to happen, and we wanted to get either Kaepernick or Locker, we would have to target them, I think, in the same area. I like Locker more as an NFL prospect than Kaepernick. What do you think Kip? I see Kaepernick as a 2-3 year project and Locker as more 1-2 year project.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      I think Locker could be an average quarterback right away if he goes to the right offense. My hunch is that Locker will have a slow progression in his improvement year to year rather than a “lightbulb comes on” moment like Hasselbeck had. Eli Manning is a very different player than Locker, but I think Locker would have a career similar to the one Manning has had- low completion rates that improve almost every year (very steady improvement each season).

      I think Kaepernick needs to be given the same treatment Rivers and Rodgers got. 2-3 years on the bench, then in year 3-4, look out.

  3. Dave says:

    Seems like a faster Charlie Whitehurst to me

  4. caleb says:

    If he runs like that in the NFL, linebackers will tear him a new one. No thanks.

  5. Morgan says:

    He’s a runner, but not elusive. He’s a thrower, but not a passer. He has a powerful arm but a slow release and shoddy mechanics. He’s good at everything a QB should be bad at and bad at everything a QB should be good at. He’s more of a mess than Tebow was and will require the same level of training investment that Denver immersed Tebow in. I mean, they will literally need to reprogram his brain and change the entire way it controls his musculature.

    Of course, I felt much the same way about Josh Freeman, so what do I know.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Agree about being a “thrower”, but he’s definitely elusive behind the LOS by my standards. I’m not as down on his mechanics as others have been. Look at the stuff from the Boise State game, that goofy windup is basically gone! Considering that was a game from late last season, I think its a very encouraging sign that he might have finally grown out of some of those problems toward the very end of his career.

  6. Matt says:

    My take…I’d rather gamble on Kaepernick than Andy Dalton. This is a no brainer. That being said, I’m not thrilled about the pick (if he is at 25), but I’d appreciate an aggressive approach on high upside with the confidence that the Hawks can make him reach his potential.

    Since this information came out, I think the Locker debate is over regarding the Hawks. If they like Kaepernick enough to take him at 25, then there’s no doubt that they probably rate Locker extremely high. Like Kip stated, they are similar players, but Jake has better mechanics and at least a slight knowledge of NFL concepts.

    Obviously, we don’t know if the Kaepernick deal is 100% accurate, but let’s just say I would not be shocked if the Hawks consider the 11th overall pick a target spot if Locker gets past the Redskins. I believe according to the trade value chart, that we could get to 11 by simply dealing 25 & 57 (maybe throw in a later pick).

    QB is of paramount importance, and I don’t think PC or JS would hesitate to trade up to a certain point for Locker. Whether that spot is 9, 11, 13 or 14, who knows, but my gut feeling is that is an option on the table for the Hawks. Whether or not they act on that is a different story.

    • FWBrodie says:

      …but you also have to consider their desire to add more picks. If they want more picks badly, then you could assume the idea of losing a pick won’t be appealing. If they believe they can acquire an extra pick by moving down and still pick Kaepernick now you’re comparing the value of Locker against the value of Kaepernick/2nd rd/3rd rd. Is Locker 2 relatively early picks better than Kaepernick? I don’t see them believing that.

      • Matt says:

        …I don’t think they will trade up and I do believe their desire to trade down. I’m referring to the idea that they have different scenarios in mind. I think one of those scenarios is if a QB they highly covet falls to a certain point, that they feel the sacrificing of picks is worth the prospect that falls.

        Like I said, I don’t think that will happen, but I definitely believe this is a scenario they have played out and will consider.

        You could say the same thing about the Patriots and Packers (specifically Clay Matthews trade up). I’m sure the Patriots would love to add Green or Jones as a #1 WR. They definitely have played out a scenario where if Julio Jones falls to a certain point, they will strongly entertain the idea of moving up because the value of Jones (in their eyes) far out weighs a complimentary second round player.

        Like I said, I don’t expect these things to happen, but I think they are realistic thought processes by these teams, specifically the Seahawks.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Its still too early with this administration to predict their actions with absolute confidence, but I’m not expecting a trade up, even if Cam Newton is sitting there at #9 and Dallas is looking to deal (I wish).

      The reason is because last year the Seahawks could have moved up for very little cost to get Jimmy Clausen and didn’t despite liking him enough to consider him in the 1st round. I think in their minds, he was so close to reaching #60 that they just thought “lets see if he makes it.” Overall, “patience” was the trademark of the Seahawks draft in 2010, and that was also a signature trait for Ted Thompson in Green Bay.

      In terms of psychology, it feels better to take a player who “fell” to you than to trade up for one, because you will always be left wondering what could have been if you had stayed put and kept the extra pick, a pick that could very well represent another starter. I have nothing against trading up, I just think its more satisfying to wait and still get a good player without paying extra. It feels like you get a better deal.

      I expect Seattle to be even more patient this year because they are picking in an area of the draft with a wider selection of players with roughly the same talent level.

      I suspect the reason that Seattle wants to trade down so badly is because the players they are looking at, probably QB and G, are players that will likely come off the board in the early to mid 30s.

      • Rob says:

        The same source offering info this year said 12 months ago that Seattle had no interest in Clausen.

        Not hard to see why – average arm, can’t scramble.

  7. ChavaC says:

    How could we pass on the two time “WAC OFF” player off the year?

  8. Jerry Nice says:

    No thanks.

    I just don’t buy that the Hawks have zero interest in Mallett. Also, anything at this stage should be considered smoke-and-mirrors. No disrespect to your source, but I doubt anyone other than Carroll and Schneider know what the plan is.

    Any chance of getting our list out to the public would seem like an attempt here. I remember at this point last year we were supposed to nab Clausen with the #14 pick. Didn’t he go all the way into the 3rd?

    I’d rather eat a full season than stretch on a guy based on necessity. I would probably only throw a fourth at this guy..Any QB getting drafted in the NFL should either be ready to go day 1, or drafted later as a project IMO.

    I hope we don’t get cute and move back…

    • Rob says:

      There are many components to the Seahawks war room and front office. Absolutely others will know Seattle’s intentions.

      The same source last year told me that Clausen wasn’t on Seattle’s board and neither was CJ Spiller. We reported that on the blog. The source also said Trent Williams and Eric Berry was the preferred options, but both left the board. It’s no coincidence they ended up taking a safety and a tackle anyway.

      And the source nailed the Marshawn Lynch pick before everyone else.

      It’s proven to be reliable and these are just some examples.

      • Jerry Nice says:

        I just can’t get behind this pick, so maybe I’m trying my best to call shenanigans in the hopes that this won’t happen? NOOOOOOOOOOO!

        • Rugby Lock says:

          If the Palmer rumor turns out to be true I would love this pick. I would prefer him to Locker actually. Not to say I would be disappointed with Locker…

    • FWBrodie says:

      This isn’t the type of source that the team would send a smoke screen through from what I’ve gathered.

      As for being “ready to go now”, with the lockout do you really think any rookies will fit that description this year? Especially quarterbacks, I think that’d be asking an awful lot. So knowing that, and knowing how awful the Hawks’ roster is (and yes we all know the NFCW sucks), isn’t this the perfect year to spend developing a rookie behind the scenes? I mean if the Hawks did go with Mallett, I really wouldn’t expect him to see the field next year any more than Kaepernick unless the labor business suddenly clears up before the draft, which it won’t.

      • Kip Earlywine says:

        Actually, it might be a particularly bad year to draft a project, because as long as the lockout exists, all drafted players are barred from practicing, participating or working out with their teams and coaches. Very unfortunate.

        I don’t think that should be a terribly big deterrent for drafting a project QB though. If you like a guy, take him.

  9. Matt says:

    A poor man’s Locker?

    How is it that the guy who sports the 65% completion percentage and the bigger arm is for poor men and the guy who can’t crack 60% and has the lesser arm is for the rich?

    Tony Pike comparisons? Tony Pike didn’t have a 95 mph fastball.

    When people think about small school projects, they think first about guys with weaker arms and worse accuracy. I’d rather take a chance on the guy with a cannon and better accuracy and then work on teaching him some better mechanics and a pro style offense rather than the guy who’s had middling to bad accuracy issues despite allegedly better mechanics.

    • Matt says:

      Poor man’s Locker in the sense of sloppy mechanics, limited NFL style knowledge. I would say that the difference in arm strength between Locker and Kaepernick is somewhat negligible, but I’d almost give Locker the upper hand because his release is so quick and compact whereas Kaepernick has a huge windup.

      As far as the completion %, I think we need to be careful about the offensive systems some of these guys ran. Dalton has a 67% completion percentage because 9/10 passes were 7 yard crossing routes with 4 WRs on the field. Kaepernick also ran a goofy system, so I’d caution overstating a completion % based on completely different offenses and competition levels.

      I get many people hate Locker, but there’s a reason he is so highly coveted compared to others. If it was all based on numbers, Ken Dorsey, Matt Leinart, and Jason White would have substituted for Brady, Rodgers, and Cutler.

      • FWBrodie says:

        First of all, are you two different Matts?

        Second, “huge windup” is a bit of an overstatement. Both Locker and Kaepernick were quick to tuck the ball and run in college, we know that much.

        I believe that Locker’s completion percentage was hurt by drops and other team factors, but I watched him miss plenty of throws with my own eyes these past few years. He hasn’t been an accurate passer.

        • Matt MTJ says:

          Differentiated the names. Sorry for the confusion.

          “Windup” might be an extreme description, but it is very pronounced and enough so that it could pose a problem, especially when delivering a ball on the move as there are more parts moving.

          I definitely am not arguing Locker being an accurate guy. That said, I think what I’m trying to lean towards is the notion of a guy being “accurate” based on a completion percentage in a goofy offense. This isn’t a direct knock on Kaepernick, but also to the Andy Daltons of the world as well.

          My biggest issue is that if you get in your head a kid is inaccurate based on a stat, then naturally when breaking down a player, you will be quicker to see that negative connotation, just like the opposite holds true. I kept hearing how accurate Dalton was, but when watching the Senior Bowl, it was clearly evident that a) he had poor arm strength, and b) his accuracy isn’t good by any means when actually having to make “real throws more often than not.

          My bottom line point is that Locker’s accuracy isn’t nearly as bad as people say, just like Dalton and Kaepernick and Dalton’s accuracy is nowhere to as good as people say. People’s perceptions are clearly skewed by references to statistics.

          • Matt MTJ says:

            And I said Dalton about 10 times. Great grammar.

          • FWBrodie says:

            Yeah I agree. A lot of people are quick to fire off Locker’s completion % and then turn around and leave the discussion with their nose up. It definitely doesn’t tell the whole story there. He has issues, but he’s not chucking balls into the stands with half of his attempts like some people will lead you to believe and he did make some great throws.

      • Rugby Lock says:

        Kaep’s windup isn’t really a huge neg IMO as overall he has an avg release. Not as good as Lock’s but not Tebowesque.

    • ChavaC says:

      It comes down to playing in a pistol offense in the WAC. There are others negatives but the problem is you just don’t really know what you’re getting and probably won’t know for another year or more likely two. With Locker you have a guy who had (mixed) success in a pro styled system against a much higher level of competition. He has been inconsistent but he has shown the obvious ability to impress in very difficult situations. You have a very clear picture of what you can make out of Jake.

      Kaepernick never has never run a pro offense against a top tier team, so the floor is much lower on where he projects. In my eyes he could be a Sam Bradford or a Colt Brennan. Fortunately he is very intelligent and did very well on the wonderlic (38, Locker dropped a 20… ugh) so you know that mentally he should have no problems, and his work ethic is top notch. The pieces are all there to be very good, he just has to show he can put them together in a pro offense.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Locker has a bigger arm. In some ways Kaepernick is superior to Locker. I even think Kaepernick’s cieling is higher of the two. I just think that when you consider the whole package, particularly that Locker would be ready much sooner, that Locker is the more appealing choice overall. Its close.

      • Rugby Lock says:

        I think that the Hawks would have to trade up for Lock but not for Kaep so that’s a big bonus IMO as they have so many holes to fill.

  10. Matt says:

    Question for you Rob…

    Does the Kaepernick interest imply that they would prefer Locker but have zero faith in him falling? To follow that up, do you think they have a scenario in place where if Locker falls to a certain point, they don’t mind trading up and sacrificing picks because of positional importance combined with conviction in his prospects?

    I only ask this because I can imagine they have entertained the idea that if Locker gets to 11 or 14, then they will heavily consider trading up for him because the mortgaging of picks isn’t catastrophic. Thoughts? Am I way off base in this thought process?

    • FWBrodie says:

      Not answering your question or trying to, but have you considered the possibility that they’ve rated Colin Kaepernick higher than Jake Locker in the first place?

    • Rob says:

      I’ve written a lot (mostly during the Bates era) about Washington/Shanahan and Seattle/Carroll being the two combinations that would probably love Locker. He will go 10th overall, I’m certain about it. If he doesn’t and I’m wrong, I think he’ll last to #25. Do they trade up? Throughout this whole process I’ve not ruled it out. I don’t think they’ll do it though, which is probably why they’re looking at Kaepernick. They clearly want mobility.

  11. Vin says:

    Im still hopeful they draft Mallet and then Locker in that order if both were available. But if this source is dead on and we get Kaepernick, I wouldnt be too displeased. Based on Schneider’s comments (assuming its not all smoke/mirrors) he thinks the team has far too many holes that even losing one pick in order to trade up for Mallet/Locker isnt worth it. But the holes we have, in my opinion, arent holes you fill with middle rounders. Depth, sure, but not starters. Arguably, we need top talent @ LG, WR, CB, DT, DE…and of course QB. As good as schneider might be at picking diamonds in the rough, theres still a reason those guys arent 2nd rounders or better. Think I got off topic there….

    ANyway, back to Kaepernick….I watched the videos, and from what Ive seen Im impressed. He’s obviously a project, but to me not anymore of a project than Locker. I think he’s got a better arm, even with that funky motion. And Im sure the same things were said of Rivers…and he didnt turn out too shabby. Sure its a roll of the dice, but it looks like Schneider’s trying to get the best of both worlds….fill a gap in the QB roster, even if it is a project, while still having the picks to fill other holes. Im just glad they arent targeting Ponder or Dalton.

    And we still get to see what CBJ is made of. I wouldve preferred we did that last year, but the past is the past.

    Thanks for the write up, Kip.

  12. Chris Reiff says:

    Did anyone notice how natural he looks rolling left and throwing? For a right handed quarterback that really stood out to me.

    • Jim Kelly says:

      That’s what impressed me the most about him. A right-handed qb, rolling out to the left, and throwing the ball so quickly that only his receiver can get it. Freakin’ impressive.

      I like Colin Kaepernick. My biggest knock on him is I have no idea how well he can read defenses. You have to be able to read defenses in a pistol better than if you’re in the shotgun, but but fall woefully short of being under center when it comes to seeing the defense, and adjusting to the defensive tendencies. Why did Kaepernick run? Did Kaepernick always take off because he progressed through his reads and couldn’t find an open receiver? Or did he run because his ability to read and react to a defense is horrible, so he ran instead of developing “happy feet”? The reason is probably somewhere between those two reasons, and he was good at running. He wanted to win, so Kaepernick did what he needed to do to win: run when he couldn’t throw.

      I’ve gone after Jake Locker pretty hard. It’s not because I’m an alumni of WSU, but because so many people were enamored with him that I played Devil’s Advocate. Locker can be good. The fractured ribs affected him, but he was inconsistant prior to that injury. Where Locker’s been injury prone, Kaepernick hasn’t. The level of competition had something to do with that, but Kaepernick was still able to adjust his game when Locker was unable to do the same. I agree with Caleb, if Kaepernick runs like that in the pros, he’ll know what it’s like to be hit like he’s never been hit before. Both men are so competitive that neither one really knows how to slide. I like that about both of them because it shows their competitive spirit. I don’t like that same facet of their game because it will lead to injuries.

      • Jim Kelly says:

        Hit post comment by accident. Sorry.

        I feel that Kaepernick is a poor man’s Locker. Locker was expected to be the first pick, Kaepernick’s never even been thought of in the top ten. Kaepernick’s two inches taller, and three pounds heavier. So both should be able to take an NFL pounding. But I can see the Seahawks moving back into the top of the second round, and still getting Kaepernick. I can’t even imagine that scenario happening with Jake Locker. Locker doesn’t have the accuracy of Kaepernick, but then Bart Starr didn’t have the accuracy of Joe Montana. It doesn’t matter what your accuracy is as long as you win. In Kaepernick’s worst game, he had a 54% completion percentage, but he still won. Locker completed 31% against Nebraska, but U Dub still won (In spite of him, for that one game.). So, yes, completion percentage is a fair precursor to winning, but does it matter as much as ability and heart? I feel that both men will succeed in the NFL IF they get into a system that can develop those talents. Both men are determined to do whatever it takes to win, so I’ll be happy with either of them.

        My choice for who I’d draft:

        1) Ryan Mallett
        2) @ #25-Locker
        2) move back to get extra pick-Kaepernick

        I don’t think Mallett or Locker will be there at 25, and it’s too early to draft Kaepernick. I feel it’s too early to draft Locker, but he won’t remain as long as Kaepernick. Whatever happens, I just hope that the Hawks don’t get JaMarcussed.

  13. drrew says:

    While I find him interesting, I’m not sure how anyone watching this doesn’t come away thinking he’s an extreme project, and I’m not sure this team can justify taking that type of project in the first two rounds.

    He has elite arm strength, but his accuracy doesn’t blow you away. He was often throwing to guys who were open by 5+ yards and outside of a few years of Mike Martz magic in STL, that just doesn’t happen at the next level

    He has elite speed for the position, but I don’t see anyway that his body type will hold up if he does run a lot. NFL lb’s as a whole are 40lbs heavier, and .2-.3 tenths faster than the defensive backs he was running away from in college.

    Look at the career of Randall Cunningham for someone with similar athleticism and body type. From 88-90 he started every game, and then his games started went 1, 15, 4, 14, 7, 6, 15 before finishing up the last three seasons as a back-up.

    All this being said, I like him, but would place him in a group with Stanzi, Dalton, Ponder below the big 4. And really, for me, the big 4 is a big 2 (Mallett and Newton) followed by a slightly smaller 2 (Gabbert & Locker).

  14. Rob says:

    Highlights are never a great guage – but on that little package the most pleasing thing I saw was probably the way he was going to a second or third option, scanning the field before making a throw. If he can do that at the next level he has a shot.

  15. Billy Showbiz says:

    I only watched about half of the video but he seemed very deliberate to me. I didn’t see one pump fake that turned into a pass to a different receiver. Pump fake means run, otherwise he locks on to his receiver. I was really impressed with how well he threw the ball on the run to his left. That’s a really tough throw and he was spot on with it. The hitch in the throw is a concern too but it sounds as if he was working on correcting it and doing a good job of that. The way he carries the ball is a concern but he looked pretty elusive and did a good job of not taking big hits while running with the ball. Of course that could change in the NFL. I like him but it is going to take a while until he’s ready.

  16. nepacific says:

    One big difference between Kaepernick and Locker is that Kaepernick’s Wunderlic score was 37, and Locker’s was 20.

    That having been said, I think it’s most likely they go for other positions early and take a flyer on a QB in the late rounds. That would work if they really do have Carson Palmer in the bag and can wait for next year in hopes of somehow trading up (I hope they have to trade up) to get Luck or Barkley or Landry Jones.