One of the more interesting notes while I’ve been out with a furlough, vacation time and the like was an item that the Raiders were taking a look at Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Lots of players visit NFL teams and don’t end up there, and occasionally a player will visit several places and be surprised to be taken by a team he didn’t even know was interested.
But the Raiders are at least intrigued enough to take a look at a quarterback who produced at a Cam Newton level as a run-pass quarterback, albeit against lesser competition.
Projecting and developing drafted quarterbacks is one of the worst things the Raiders do as a franchise. Al Davis hasn’t nailed one since 1968, when he took quarterbacks in the first two rounds with second-round pick Ken Stabler (No. 58 overall) quickly surpassing first-round pick Eldredge Dickey (No. 25) and leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl title in addition to winning the Most Valuable Player award.
I like the idea of Kaepernick anyway, because despite all the brave talk, it’s still too soon to assume Jason Campbell is going to be the quarterback who leads the Raiders past .500 and into the post season.
The offensive improvement under Hue Jackson was phenomenal, more than doubling the scoring output and at times looking like one of the most explosive offenses in the league. But it’s a quarterback driven league, and Campbell still has to prove he can be the player who can lead the Raiders to victory on days when the running game isn’t trampling opponents. Campbell’s best days coincided with big rushing days where he properly managed the game and wasn’t forced to be the centerpiece of the offense.
Kaepernick (6-foot-5, 233 pounds) looks as if he could become that kind of player, and although he’s extremely fast (4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) and ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons as a starter, he knows what lies ahead as a professional.
“I don’t think I’ll run as much in the NFL as I did in college,” Kaepernick told reporters at the combine. “ Obviously there are great athletes in the NFL and all of the run 4.4s-4.5s. I think I am going to have the freedom to run, but at the same time my mobility will give the ability to extend plays and convert on some third downs.”
In his player rankings for the NFL Network, talent guru Gil Brandt had Kaepernick as his 58th best player and behind six other quarterbacks _ Blaine Gabbert, Newton, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton.
Mike Mayock, whose talent evaluations are among the best in the business, likened him to Tim Tebow, a first-round pick by Denver last year, except that Kaepernick is faster and with a much stronger arm. But it’s conceivable Kaepernick could be available when the Raiders pick at No. 48.
Of course, the last time the Raiders picked a quarterback in the second round, they got another runner-passer type at No. 59, and Marques Tuiasosopo never turned into the next Rich Gannon. Despite his athleticism, Tuiasosopo did not become good enough NFL passer to flourish.
At the Senior Bowl and during workouts, scouts have seen more touch from Kaepernick than they expected.
“Going into my junior and senior year I really started to develop the idea of throwing the ball so our receivers can make plays after they catch it,” Kaepernick said. “If I give them a easier ball to catch they can catch it, get down field and make some plays.
“ Opposed to in the past, throw it as hard as I could and try to put it on the spot where they might have to fight the ball a little bit to catch it and not be able
to pick up as many yards after the catch.”
A list of the quarterbacks drafted by the Raiders:
JaMarcus Russell 1-1-2007
Andrew Walter 3-69-2005
Ronald Curry 7-235-2002
Marques Tuiasosopo 2-59-2001
Billy Joe Hobert 3-58-93
Todd Marinovich 1-24-1991
Jeff Francis 6-140-1989
Steve Beuerlein 4-110-1987
Rusty Hilger 6-143-1985
Marc Wilson 1-15-1980
Jeb Blount 2-50-1976
David Humm 6-128-1975
Mike Rae 8-205-1973
Eldridge Dickey 1-25-1968
Ken Stabler 2-52-1968