In less than two full seasons as an NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick has led his team to a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship Games.
He’s still only 26 years old, has a 17-6 record in the regular season and is 4-2 in the playoffs. Plus, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is 31 to 11 and he’s proven to be perhaps the most electric running quarterback ever. His speed in the open field is spectacular.
So why, in a recent rating of NFL starting quarterbacks by ESPN.com, was Kaepernick ranked 14th overall, in the second tier? Are there really 13 QBs in the league better than the 49ers’?
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle brought up Kaepernick’s rating recently, asking if Kaepernick was unfairly rated.
The top-rated quarterbacks are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck. The second tier (in order) were ranked as Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, Kaepernick and Nick Foles.
Rankings were based on a formula of evaluations by NFL coaches and front-office talent evaluators, wrote Mike Sando of ESPN, who put together the rankings story.
“Many would consider Kaepernick to be higher than 14th overall; he may have been downgraded because of his running ability,” wrote Lynch, adding that the Panther’s Cam Newton – who took Carolina to the playoffs last season – also is a running QB who was ranked in the third tier of QBs, “which many thought was excessively low.”
Talent evaluators told Sando they want to see Kaepernick read defenses better and be a more consistent passer in the pocket.
Bill Williamson, who covers the 49ers for ESPN.com, doesn’t necessarily see the ranking as a big knock against Kaepernick. It’s just an indication that the Niners quarterback is still growing. And, while growing, he’s still been dynamic.
“Kaepernick has 29 starts,” wrote Williamson. “For him to be ranked in the upper half of what is a strong quarterback league is encouraging for the 49ers. Kaepernick is far from a finished product. I’d think if this project was done again in two years, Kaepernick would have a solid chance of being a first-tier quarterback.
“But he does have to address some of the questions the insiders brought up, with his accuracy and pocket play being at the top of the list. But there is little doubting this is a quality quarterback.”
And, going into 2014, a motivated quarterback. Since the disappointment of the loss to Seattle in the NFC title game, Kaepernick’s coaches and teammates have noted how diligent he’s been to improve. And, with added offensive weapons such as receivers Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington and Brandon Lloyd and having running backs Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde available, Kaepernick is excited about the prospects of the offense being much better in 2014.
“I want to see this offense do whatever it has to do to win games,” Kaepernick said recently.
If that happens and the 49ers continue to win, no doubt Kaepernick’s spot in the 2015 rankings will be much higher.