If you’ve visited this blog before, it’s fairly obvious what I want the Dolphins to do in next week’s draft. I would love to see them trade down and acquire a second-round pick, but at the end of the day, I firmly believe their number one priority in the draft’s first round should be landing Ryan Mallett. I don’t care if they stay put at fifteen, trade back, or trade up, if the Dolphins are on the clock when Ryan Mallett is still on the board it just makes too much sense to pull the trigger on the only quarterback in this year’s class that has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback.
However, if we must play devil’s advocate for a moment, the Dolphins are a team that prefers to draft high-character guys. In last year’s draft they made a concentrated effort to select players who were captains in college and who were widely thought of as good kids. If the Dolphins are planning on going that route again in 2011, Colin Kaepernick may be the quarterback prospect they have secretly been targeting all along. If it was me, I’m holding out for a veteran in free agency to compete with Chad Henne if the Dolphins pass on Ryan Mallett, but it’s easy to see why the front office could have a strong interest in Kaepernick.
Size: 6-4, 233
Projected Round: 1-2
Pros: Physically, Kaepernick’s measurables are about as eye popping as Mallett’s. At 6’4, 233 pounds, Kaepernick has the prototypical size you look for in an NFL QB, and he accompanies that size with superb athleticism. His 4.53 forty at the combine is almost off the charts for a quarterback with his size. Doesn’t have great acceleration, but because he’s such a long strider, he’s tough to catch once he gets going. He also throws very well on the move, which suggest he will be very useful on rollouts and broken plays at the next level.
Don’t label him exclusively as a scrambler, though. The kid has the arm strength to make any throw in football and was fairly accurate in the short to intermediate passing game at Nevada. Many GM’s believe the theory that the biggest factor in determining which quarterbacks will succeed and which quarterbacks will bust is experience. Kaepernick was a four-year starter at Nevada, where he became the only quarterback in Division 1 history to pass for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in a career.
And if the Dolphins are looking for a guy who’s got a good head on his shoulders and has excellent leadership ability, unlike Ryan Mallett in the former and Chad Henne in the latter, Kaepernick may be their man. His stock significantly varies depending on which expert you talk to. It would be a little unexpected if the Dolphins were to use their first-round pick on Kaepernick, but I wouldn’t be shocked. Ideally, though, if they are convicted on Kaepernick as the new potential long-term solution in Miami, the Dolphins will trade back into the late first round and use their newly acquired second-round selection on him.
Cons: When you see the attributes above, you may ask what exactly is not to like. I mean the kid has great size, athleticism, and arm strength, and he was a four-year starter and has the leadership ability you covet at the quarterback position. There are some drawbacks, though. For starters, and possibly the biggest concern of all, Kaepernick played in a pistol offense at Nevada. Quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton scare some because they ran the spread and must learn the footwork behind taking a snap under center.
But at least in their case, NFL offenses have adapted enough to incorporate tendencies of spread offenses. But there isn’t an offense in the entire league that does anything that remotely resembles the pistol offense outside of a gadget play or two. Kaepernick is a bright kid and a hard worker, so maybe he will be able to learn the nuances of running a pro style system, but it’s going to be a tough transition to say the least. For those that argue that this regime doesn’t have the time to invest in a rookie quarterback because they must win now, Kaepernick figures to be quite the project and likely won’t be able to seriously challenge Chad Henne for the starting job right off the bat.
They are also concerns about his throwing motion. He doesn’t establish a good base when he throws, which causes some passes to sail, and it takes a little longer for him to get the ball out of his hands than what’s ideal. Lastly, who knows how the success he had in college playing in the WAC conference will translate to the pros. Sure, Boise State is one of the better programs in the country, but Kaepernick was able to feast on non-BCS defenses week in and week out.