Signing Colin Kaepernick: The Numbers

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Signing Colin Kaepernick: The Numbers

Colin Kaepernick has become a divisive topic, to say the least. The ex-49ers quarterback has been looking for a job since opting out of his contract early in the offseason. Kaepernick just completed his best season in two years throwing 16 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions.

Taking a quick glance at the success Colin Kaepernick has had in the past and it’s a bit puzzling as to why he’s still on the market. He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 and again to the NFC Championship game in 2014. In both of these games they were mere inches away from victory. When players like Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brock Osweiler are still earning NFL paychecks without the same role in team success like Colin Kaepernick, it should raise some eyebrows. Hell, Kellen Clemens is playing for the Los Angeles Chargers right now.

How many of you knew he was still in the league? Right.

Here is a list of teams that I believe would increase their talent at quarterback by signing Kaepernick (or at least maintain the same level of play based on last year):

-Philadelphia Eagles

-Los Angeles Rams

-Cleveland Browns

-Houston Texans

-San Francisco 49ers

-Chicago Bears

-New York Jets

-New York Giants

-Cincinnati Bengals

-Baltimore Ravens

-Jacksonville Jaguars

-Denver Broncos

-Kansas City Chiefs

Obviously you can pick apart the list and be a bit subjective with the teams selected, but there are teams that would undeniably be better with Colin Kaepernick at the helm.

Let’s start out by extrapolating Kaepernick’s numbers through the course of a full, sixteen game season. Kaepernick played in 12 games and finished with 331 attempts, 196 completions, 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 59.2 completion percentage, a 90.7 passer rating, and a 55 QBR as measured by ESPN.

Stringing those numbers out for a full 16 game season gives us:

-441 passing attempts

-261 passing completions

-2,988 passing yards

-21 passing touchdowns

-5 interceptions

Not bad. That’s fairly turnover free football with more than enough production through the air for this to be a stabilizing force on a football team. Obviously, Colin Kaepernick isn’t on the caliber of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, etc., but he is very clearly a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL.

What’s striking about Colin Kaepernick is his low interception percentage of 1.2%. To put that in perspective, reigning Most Valuable Player Matt Ryan finished the season with an interception percentage of 1.3%. Ryan was more productive scoring the ball, but they both did a fantastic job of protecting the ball throughout the 2016 season.

Here are the interception percentages of quarterbacks that were signed this offseason:

Colin Kaepernick: 1.2%

Austin Davis (2015): 3.2%

Josh McCown: 3.6%

Blaine Gabbert: 3.8%

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 4.2%

Matt Barkley: 6.5%

Here are the same quarterback’s touchdown percentage. Colin Kaepernick posted a 4.8% touchdown percentage on the year. For fun, here’s how Joe Flacco measures with the rest of the group:

Colin Kaepernick: 4.8%

Austin Davis (2015): 4.2%

Kirk Cousins: 4.1%

Matthew Stafford: 4.0%

Blaine Gabbert: 3.8%

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 3.0%

Matt Barkley: 3.7%

Josh McCown: 3.6%

Joe Flacco: 3.0%

In the Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback CatalogueCian Fahey charted Colin Kaepernick with the second lowest percentage of interceptable passes behind former Chicago Bears’ quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Here’s the top five in lowest percentage of interceptable passes:

  1. Brian Hoyer: 2%
  2. Colin Kaepernick: 2.11%
  3. Tyrod Taylor: 2.29%
  4. Sam Bradford: 2.35%
  5. Aaron Rodgers: 2.45%

Fahey also charted Kaepernick as the 14th most accurate passer in the league last year. Fahey defines accuracy percentage as:

“Qualifying attempts include plays where the quarterback’s accuracy was relevant. That doesn’t include passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, spikes, intentional throwaways, hail maries, obvious miscommunications or plays where the quarterback was hit as he released the ball.”

Kaepernick ranked ahead of big names like Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, and Andy Dalton.

Based on the numbers, Kaepernick is clearly an NFL caliber quarterback. His play last year, simply as a passer, was at least league average. Kaepernick finished as Pro Football Focus’ top graded runner among quarterbacks last year.

A quarterback that’s safe with the ball and can make big plays with his legs are usually hot commodities in the NFL. In a league where players like Josh McCown, Blake Bortles, and Trevor Siemian are seen as starting caliber quarterbacks, it’s asinine to believe Kaepernick shouldn’t be seen above those players.

Based on basic passing statistics, it’s a bit confusing (well, not really) as to why Kaepernick doesn’t have a job yet.