In every draft class, there's a name that starts to climb up the charts (and up the boards of draft analysts and teams) from the Senior Bowl through the week of the draft itself. This year, that name seems be Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is drawing more and more interest in a quarterback class without a specific alpha dog. Teaming with head coach Chris Ault to run a modified run-action offense called the Pistol (read more about the Pistol here and here), the lightly-recruited former baseball pitcher eventually became one of the most productive quarterbacks in recent NCAA history, and the main man behind Nevada's 13-1 record, BCS ranking of 11th, and upset win over Boise State.
We recently talked with Kaepernick about his trip up the ladder, why he's climbing the charts of late, what he can bring to an NFL team. This is part two of the interview; part one can be found here. You can also read the recent Shutdown 40 scouting report on Kaepernick here.
Shutdown Corner: I was also curious what NFL teams have been telling you about it — you've had 13 total visits and workouts so far. I found it interesting that on the ESPN Sports Science feature you recently did, your release was timed as being ridiculously quick. Is that something NFL teams are worried about?
CK: None of the teams I've talked to thus far have had a problem with my motion; most of them say that it looks different, but that I still get the ball out quickly — I'm still completing passes and I'm accurate. So, that's what it really comes down to.
SC: Right — and you don't have that sort of "catapult" motion like a Byron Leftwich — you don't have to adjust for that slower release.
CK: Yeah — I think that just goes to show that it's not always what it seems — it's not always what first meets the human eye. And I think a lot of people look at my release, and it's different, so they say it's bad. Just because it looks a little bit different, it's not the prototypical release of a quarterback, doesn't mean it's necessarily bad or inefficient.
SC: Despite the fact that Nevada broke through in a big way in 2010, the Senior Bowl seemed to be where some people got a first really good look at you. What was your take on the whole week, and how you did? You seemed to come off very well.
CK: I think a lot of the players there really didn't know too much about me. I don't think a lot of the scouts knew too much about me because we don't have a primetime team, we're not on TV every week. I think going to the Senior Bowl and having an opportunity to go side-by-side with other quarterbacks that are the big-name quarterbacks that are projected to go highly was huge for me to show them that I'm just as good as these quarterbacks, if not better, and I'm here to play football and perform. Just because I'm from a smaller school doesn't mean I'm not capable.
SC: What was different about getting NFL coaching?
CK: I think the biggest thing is it's your job to know what you're doing, but if you don't know what you're doing, you're going to get left behind. So you have to be in your playbook, you have to know what's going on. If not, it's going to show as soon as you step on the field…No, they really don't give you anything. You just have to pick it up the first night you get the playbook, you have to go through it and you have to know most of it by the next day. They're going to talk you through a few things, but for the most part, you're on your own…From talking to the coaching staff, they said that was about 60% of their playbook ... I don't think it was a lot bigger (than Nevada's playbook). I think we have fewer base plays, but we do a lot different motions, shifts, things like that in our offense, whereas they just have a lot of different plays with less motions and things like that.
SC: You're the only quarterback in NCAA history to pass for over 10,000 yards and run for over 4,000 yards on your career, but it seems like your mobility is a bit underrated. Do you think that's the case?
CK: I think it depends on who you talk to. There are people who think I'm the best runner ever, and there are people who think I'm not a very good runner at all. It's really just a personal opinion on the style of running you like.
SC: Talk about your pre-draft training — where have you been training, with who, and what are you working in specifically?
CK: Chip Smith does all of our speed and agility training. Their quarterback coach down there was Roger Theder from, he lives in California now, but he goes down there every year. He's been great. He teaches us a lot as far as routes vs. coverage, conversion routes, where you want to put the ball in certain coverages. Did a lot of chalk talk with us to make sure we're ready for what was coming up.
SC: It seems like the momentum around your name has really picked up from the Senior Bowl until now — do you think that's a product of the fact that a lot of people didn't really see what you could do under the more national events came up?
CK: Definitely. I think I was very confident with everything I was doing from the Senior Bowl to the Combine to my pro day. The thing is, I really didn't change too much from the time of the season 'til then. I think a lot of people just didn't realize who I was or what I was capable of, and being on that national stage, side-by-side with these players, really kind of showed everybody who I was.
SC: I'm sure you've thought a lot about the next level and what it will take to succeed — what do you think is your best NFL attribute, and what's the one thing you might need to work on the most?
CK: I think my best attribute is my mental side of the game. Knowing exactly where I want to go with the ball vs. certain defenses, what our checks and audibles are and what our offense is really trying to get done on this particular play. I think going forward to the NFL, the biggest thing for me is going to be picking up on NFL defenses. Because of the offense we ran we had a lot of base defenses versus us, and teams cut down their blitzing because we ran the option so much. Going forward that's not going to be the case. There's going to be a lot more disguises, a lot more spinning of coverages, a lot more movement in the defense and just picking up on keys and knowing what the defense is trying to get done on every play and every coverage is going to be crucial.
SC: Who are your favorite NFL quarterbacks, and which current NFL quarterback do you think you most resemble in playing style?
CK: I would say right now my two favorites would probably be Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Both of them just seem to have a great mental grasp on the game as far as what they want to get done in an offense, and what they want to do versus certain defenses, and then just picking 'em apart from there. I mean, to see a quarterback do that, and just go down the field play-by-play is—I mean, that's exciting to me. As far as comparing myself to a quarterback, I don't think there's really one quarterback I match-up with. For me, I try to take bits and pieces from different quarterbacks' games I like and make it my own style.
SC: Why should an NFL team draft you, and what kind of player will that team be getting when they hand the card in with your name on it?
CK: I think an NFL team should draft me because number one, they're going to get a player that's going to be prepared for everything that's going to be coming. I don't like to be unprepared for anything. I'm going to be prepared for whatever defense I'm going to see week-to-week, whatever offense we're installing, whatever plays we're getting ready to use that week. As well as being a great leader and having physical attributes that will allow me to perform on the field, you're going to get a person that's there to win. I'm not going to the NFL just to be another quarterback. I want to be successful. I want to win. When they hand that card in, I think the number one thing that an NFL knows they're going to get is a hard-worker and someone that's not going to let them down.