Colin Kaepernick has started 58 games in his six-year career. It’s quite possible he’ll never add to this figure. Much ink has been spilled and blood vessels popped arguing over the root cause and its fairness. We are no closer to a consensus now than when we started.
But whatever you think of Kaepernick’s activism, his on-field ability is an important metric to be weighed. The NFL is chock-full of teams in desperate need of a competent quarterback. In 2016, Kaepernick fit this description yet still failed to win football games.
Assessing how similar production would look like from 30,000 feet this year is a worthwhile endeavor. Establishing The Kaepernick Line helps contextualize his value against those peers currently in possession of starting jobs.
The Kaepernick Line, though far from scientific, yields a marker in the sand for merit-based arguments. His numbers from last year in five key categories are compared against the field of 2017 starting quarterbacks. His hypothetical rank is then averaged across the line. For instance, if Kaepernick’s replicated production put him 30th in three categories and 20th in one and 15th in another, the line would be 25 (30+30+30+20+15= 125, divided by 5 = 25).
Here is that production:
Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt: 5.92
Team Points/Game in Starts: 18.66
Points Added: -0.7
Before going any further, it seems prudent to point out these areas were not selected with an intention of delivering any data, good or bad. These are simply the five most instructive areas to look at when assessing a quarterback. The only goal is to stack Kaepernick up against the rest of the league.
Through two games, here’s where he would rank in each:
Colin Kaepernick’s Rank in 2017
Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt: 16th
Team Points/Game in Start: 21st
Points Added: 19th
The first Kaepernick Line checks in at 17.2. Not showing off and not falling behind. Whether this is more reflective of his status of a mediocre, below-average starter or the dearth of talent at the position this year is up to each individual.
It is worth nothing that Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Russell Wilson, Case Keenum, Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, DeShone Kizer, and Andy Dalton rank lower in ALL of the above categories than 2016 Kaepernick playing in San Francisco.
Again, it’s still early. The Kaepernick line could plummet below 20 and possible near 25. It’s hard to imagine it getting much higher. We’ll know a little more next week.