He’s already won 4 playoff games, reached a Super Bowl, played in two NFC Championship games, and he currently sports a 21-8 record as a starter. It’s hard to ask for a better start to a career than Colin Kaepernick has had. However, he is still such a raw quarterback with lots of room to improve.
Kaepernick’s performance in the 2013 NFC Championship game against the Seahawks serves as a microcosm of his young career. It was a combination of spectacular plays mixed in with a few mistakes. The great plays came when he was able to use his physical skills, including a 58-yard run and a miraculous yet unorthodox jump-throw touchdown. The mistakes came from his inability to read and react to coverage quick enough in the passing game.
In most of Kaepernick’s 29 games, the spectacular plays have been enough to outweigh the mistakes. Against the Seahawks, they were not. And just like so many of the other talented quarterbacks in this league, Kaepernick needs to gain more precision to his game. His strong arm and breakaway speed get him by much of the time (in 3 of his 6 playoff games he’s rushed for ridiculous totals of 181, 98, and 130 yards). He’s elusive and dangerous on the run. He has unbelievable physical skills. Yet it’s his reliance on these skills that keep him from being a top-tier signal caller.
His weaknesses are numerous. Kaepernick has erratic accuracy. When he moves in the pocket, more often than not, he moves to run and loses his downfield vision. He stays on receivers too long, doesn’t read through his progressions consistently, and doesn’t throw with great anticipation. He’s not precise as a passer, and even though most of the time he can get away with it, we all saw at the end of last season that a lack of pocket-passing skills can creep up at inopportune times.
The best quarterbacks in the NFL are generally more defined by their consistency and precision than quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick. He certainly did not crack our top 10 because he is a good representation of a quarterback with these skills. Instead, it’s his ridiculous physical talent, which has yielded significant results, that gets him where he is on our list. However, just like other young and athletic quarterbacks, he won’t take the next step until he can play from the pocket with more consistency.