ESPN Mike Sando ranks Colin Kaepernick as 14th Best QB in NFL


ESPN Mike Sando recently asked 26 league insiders to grade every projecting starting quarterback on a scale of 1-5. One indicates the “best” while five indicates the “worse.” Of the 26 league insiders, eight were general managers, two were former GMs, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive participated in the study.

Carlos Avila Gonzales/The Chronicle

Carlos Avila Gonzales/The Chronicle

Once the league insiders ranked the players, the quarterbacks were then separated out by “tiers” much like in fantasy football drafts. As one GM said after the results were in, ‘That is a pretty good consensus of where we are at in the league.” So where does San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick rank? Well he falls in Tier 2 as he came in as the No. 14 ranked quarterback with a score of 2.50. The analysis is as follows:

Evaluators want to see more from Kaepernick as a reader of defenses, playing within the pocket. They acknowledge his strong arm and dynamic running ability: Kaepernick, like Wilson, has good passing stats from within the pocket, with or without play-action. But there’s still a perception around the league that neither is proven in that area.

“Kaepernick can affect the game on so many levels,” a defensive coordinator said. “He’s been to a Super Bowl, been in a championship game. He has kind of revolutionized some stuff. He is a different kind of ‘two’ than most of them, more multidimensional.”

Kaepernick, like Wilson, has benefited from a dominant defense and running game, and his team hasn’t asked him to carry the offense week after week.

But he’s been resilient. “Last year, there were a number of people injured and he still kept finding ways to win,” a different defensive coordinator said. “Those kind of guys who show that moxie at quarterback, as a defensive coach, that does factor [in] to me. It is not necessarily all based on their stats.”

Getty Images

Getty Images

With Kaepernick coming in at No. 14 where do the others rank?

Tier 1

T-1 QB Tom Brady (1.04 avg.)

T-1 QB Peyton Manning (1.04 avg.)

T-1 QB Aaron Rodgers (1.04 avg.)

T-1 QB Drew Brees (1.04 avg.)

5. QB Andrew Luck (1.50 avg.)

Tier 2

6. QB Phillip Rivers (1.77 avg.)

7. QB Ben Roethlisberger (1.85 avg.)

T-8 QB Matt Ryan (2.23 avg.)

T-8 QB Tony Romo (2.23 avg.)

T-8 QB Russell Wilson (2.23 avg.)

T-8 QB Eli Manning (2.23 avg.)

12. QB Joe Flacco (2.31 avg.)

13. QB Matthew Stafford (2.38 avg.)

14. QB Colin Kaepernick (2.50 avg.)

And if you’re wondering where Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith and Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III rank, they all fall after Kaepernick as they all fell to tier No. 3 with Newton ranked 16, Smith ranked 18 and RG3 ranked T-19.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.