Last month after Drew put together his 50 in 50 scouting report on Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick, I received an email from Dave-Te' Thomas, the official researcher and draft biographer for the NFL. He's worked for and with the NFL since 1968 and has pretty solid background when it comes to draft analysis and general knowledge. He works with Scouting Services, Inc. and has worked as editor of "The Poor Man's Guide to the NFL Draft" and now "The NFL Draft Report." If you have a minute, check out this interview last year with Canal Street Chronicles.
I'm bringing him up now because a while back I had mentioned an individual referring to Kaepernick as a taller Aaron Rodgers. Dave-Te' was the person who made that reference to me and I thought not was as good a time as any to pass along his thoughts on Kaepernick, courtesy of his service's incredibly thorough scouting report on the Nevada QB. In our discussions about Kaepernick, Thomas summed him as follows:
To me, he's another Aaron Rodgers on the field. With his mobility & off-field character, I see a lot of Roger Staubach in him. He's what I call a blue moon QB- only comes along once in a blue moon. Folks tortured me when I had Rodgers as my #1 prospect years ago & got on my hynie over Josh Freeman a few years back, but I'm not a draft analyst & judge guys on production & where I feel they will be three years down the road.
After the jump, I've got some snippets from his scouting report on Kaepernick. Obviously this is just one person's report, and even though Thomas did well with his Aaron Rodgers scouting report a few years back, Kaepernick skeptics are welcome to retain their skepticism. I simply like the idea of a fairly thorough work-up on Kaepernick as the 49ers consider all the quarterbacks out there. If the 49ers end up with another quarterback I'll work with Dave-Te' to get the appropriate scouting reports.
And in looking over these comments, the one positive that I think most people can take out of this is that if the 49ers were to draft Kaepernick, they're at least getting a player who would appear ready and willing to put in the necessary work to take his game to the highest level. It remains to be seen if he'll reach that level, but it's a step in the right direction.
This four-year starter is the best athlete in the 2011 draft at his position. He has also become a premier decision maker and elite passer, all through lots of extra hours in the film room and on the practice field. He plays in the "pistol" offense, which is not utilized in the NFL and will have to show in post-season all star games that he will be comfortable operating under center and getting to his pass set point with no issues.
He has all the intangibles you look for in a pro quarterback - size, strength and incredible speed. He is a take-charge type who is a confident leader. He is also a tough runner whose mobility in the pocket and running with the ball forces the defense to remain honest. He is very effective throwing on the move, but is also quick with his feet setting up to throw from the pocket.
He will throw across the body with a high completion rate and has exceptional arm strength, demonstrated with the zip he places in the short-to-intermediate passing areas. He can also plant his foot and step into his throws to fire off the deep outs. With his outstanding judgment and vision, he can take apart a defense with either his arm or feet.
Kaepernick will improvise throws to make the completion and shows the solid mechanics to hit his targets in stride. He is a solid touch passer who will never panic under duress (see 2010 Boise State game). He hits moving targets with very good velocity and has good communication and vision which lets his receivers get under his long throws with minimal adjustments.
With that presence in the pocket, he has the ability to look off the defender, using all of his receivers. His best asset might be his accuracy on the move, making him an inviting target for a West Coast scheme looking for athleticism from their quarterback.
In looking through the scouting report, Kaepernick's biggest weakness was in his release, which received some criticism here and across the Internet. The report gives Kaepernick a 7.1 out of 10. In discussing this weakness, Thomas offset the criticisms with some positives:
Kaepernick has worked hard to erase a bit of a wind-up that he sometimes had in the past when trying to fire the ball from a low angle. Summer camps (Manning) has seen him develop a highly effective and quick release (high), along with an ability to improvise on the run. He throws across the body effectively and even on the occasions where he will sidearm the ball, he puts good zip behind his tosses. When he throws from overhead and not shoot from the hip, he is very capable of getting the ball out with outstanding velocity and touch.
He has shown marked improvement in making his delivery more compact and when that ball comes off his fingers, you can actually hear the "buzz" behind his throws before it explodes into his target's chest. Even when he fires with a "big circle," he gets the ball out quickly, thanks to his ability to anticipate his receivers on the route's progression. More patient coaching will help him to prevent dropping the ball in his motion, but you can see he has the mechanics for a smooth and compact delivery.
It's not surprising that Kaepernick's scrambling and general athletic ability get the highest marks in the scouting report, getting 8.7's (out of 10). He received high marks for his arm strength and the various "intangibles" like work ethic, character, and general competitive nature. His accuracy doesn't get the highest of marks (7.3), but it sounds like he improved in 2010:
Prior to 2010, [accuracy] was sort of an enigmatic category for Kaepernick. Being utilized in the team's "pistol-type" offense is not suited for a player of his arm strength or athletic caliber, resulting in his average pass completion percentage, until his senior year. Allowed more say in the play-calling, he showed the ability to change up speed on his short tosses to make the completion, thanks to solid consistency and timing (see 2010 Colorado State, California, UNLV and Louisiana Tech games).
On the long throws, he flashes touch and accuracy, even though he was "stuck" in an offense that was more designed for the short-to-intermediate passing game. He is a highly effective short-to-medium range passer when given protection, as he can generate the touch and velocity, when needed. The coaches don't let him uncork the long ball as much as a QB with his arm strength needs to do, but on those occasions, you can see that he can throw the deep ball with optimum air, velocity and timing. The thing you saw in his 2010 games was his ability to "smoke it" into the cornerback/safety voids. With his improved touch, he is perfectly capable of giving his receivers space and time to adjust.
Finally, Dave-Te' looked at Kaepernick's ability to read defenses (8.0 rating):
Kaepernick is a classic touch passer who has very good vision and instincts, evident by the way he can instantly read and understand the defensive coverage (see 2010 Colorado State, California, Utah State, Idaho and Boise State games). He is an instinctive player and good decision maker. He is not the type that needs to force the issue in order to make the pass play, as he will simply throw the ball away rather than try to create something out of nothing. He has had just 1.86% of his passes intercepted during his career (best among active QBs with 400 pass attempts). While he is a quick decision maker, he is also the type that plays within the offense's framework. It is rare to see him force the ball into coverage. He has that instinctive nature you look for in a successful quarterback - he knows when to throw and when to run. With just 22 sacks in his last seasons, it shows that he is not the type to hold on to the ball too long.