There were a lot of quarterbacks taken in these last two drafts. A lot of quarterback who were supposed to save, or at least straighten out, a lot of franchises. In 2011 you had:
- Carolina Panthers – Round 1 (1) – Cam Newton, Auburn
- Tennessee Titans – Round 1 (8) – Jake Locker, Washington
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Round 1 (10) – Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
- Minnesota Vikings – Round 1 (12) – Christian Ponder, Florida State
- Cincinnati Bengals – Round 2 (35) – Andy Dalton, TCU
- San Francisco 49ers – Round 2 (36) – Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
- New England Patriots – Round 3 (74) – Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
- Kansas City Chiefs – Round 5 (135) – Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
- Houston Texans – Round 5 (152) – Taylor Yates, North Carolina
- Chicago Bears – Round 5 (160) – Nathan Enderle, Idaho
- Baltimore Ravens – Round 6 (180) – Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
- New York Jets – Round 7 (208) – Greg McElroy, Alabama
In 2012 you had:
- Andrew Luck Stanford 1 (1) Indianapolis
- Robert Griffin III Baylor 1 (2) Washington
- Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M 1 (8) Miami
- Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State 1 (22) Cleveland
- Brock Osweiler Arizona State 2 (57) Denver
- Russell Wilson Wisconsin 3 (75) Seattle
- Nick Foles Arizona 3 (88) Philadelphia
- Kirk Cousins Michigan State 4 (102) Washington
- Ryan Lindley San Diego State 6 (185) Arizona
- B.J. Coleman Chattanooga 7 (243) Green Bay
- Chandler Harnish Northern Illinois 7 (253) Indianapolis
That being said, the Niners draft of Colin Kaepernick, a guy Baalke traded up 9 spots for, was seen as a project. A guy who would hold the clipboard for a couple years, and maybe get his shot in 2013, or maybe not til 2014. Cam Newton took the NFL by storm and put up monster numbers while watching his defense give up tons of points themselves, and then crashed back to earth as Carolina kept losing. Locker sat behind Hasselbeck for 2011, and had a pretty crappy injury plagued 2012. Christian Ponder started hot for Minn, but slowly faded, and got hurt down the stretch his rookie year, but followed that up with a 2012 season that saw him lead Minnesota to the playoffs, only to miss the game with a tricep injury. Ginger Dalton led the improbable Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in 2011 only to crash and burn in the playoffs with 3 turnovers. In 2012, Dalton again led Cincy to the playoffs, only to crater as Dalton missed wide open guys deep, and couldn’t generate any offense for the Bengals. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin the 3 were supposed to come in and show their mettle, and both came through in spades as both led their teams to playoff berths. The surprise of the 2012 draft was Russell Wilson, the Seattle phenom who stole the spotlight from just about everyone else in the NFL.
The rest? Not named Colin Kaepernick? Well, McElroy for ther Jets got a start over Timmy Tebow, and bit it. No one else did anything of note. Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick. He has maintained since draft day that he thought he should have gone higher. That he was a 1st rounder. There were insiders who said he was one of the top 3 QBs of the draft back then. Of course they are saying that NOW as he leads the 49ers into the Super Bowl.
Now? All that is ancient history. The NFL is abuzz over Colin Kaepernick. The crazy thing about all this is that Harbaugh even made the move. Yeah, Alex Smith got hurt, but the usual protocol of course says the starter gets his job back when the starter gets well. As we all know this didn’t happen. But you still have to wonder if Harbaugh would have pulled the trigger for some other reason had Smith not gotten hurt. You can go nutty with the ‘what-if’ game, but really, if Smith doesn’t get hurt, are we here in the Super Bowl? Would Smith have lost a few games and been benched for Kappy anyway? Would Smith have led us to the Super Bowl? Was this the only path? These are all valid questions, but the fact remains, Colin Kaepernick, in his 10th start as a professional football player for the San francisco 49ers, is leading his team into Super Bowl 47. Unfrickingbelievable. To say his future looks bright is the understatement of the year.
Sure, there have been guys who have faded after a hot start, Cam Newton is a recent example, but he really didn’t do worse than his opening year. His team ‘improved’ one game, but they are still not very good. Kaepernick on the other hand appears to have the football world at his feet. Should he win this next game, he’ll be the new face of the current crop NFL quarterbacks. Young, brash, inked-up, and ready to mow you down running, or killing you with laser dart passes. Yeah, Seattle and Washington have their versions of the run and gun QB in Griffin and Wilson. But, as Kappy has shown, he’s bigger and faster than both, and is already looking out for his own self-preservation. Throw in old-school passer Luck (who is fairly nimble in a sneaky-fast way), and the future of the quarterback position in the NFL looks pretty damn exciting lo these next 10-15 years.
Kappy gets one in 10 days, and he’s got a head start on the rest of these guys.