Published April 08, 2011
Colin Kaepernick is living the life of a traveling salesman these days.
He spends as much time in airports and hotels as he does at home, bouncing around the country trying to convince the people in charge of making multimillion dollar decisions for billion-dollar organizations that he's got the goods.
Or, more specifically, the he IS the goods.
"For me it's exciting, I'm just trying to take it all in," the Nevada quarterback said.
With the NFL draft less than three weeks away, Kaepernick is busy visiting teams interested in selecting him.
He's scheduled to take 13 trips and, he said, three more are in the works. Plus, a few more teams are coming to Reno, Nevada, to watch him work out, he said.
The draft is April 28-30 in New York, with the first round on the first night, rounds two and three on the second night and the final four rounds on the last day.
The consensus — if there is such a thing — among the draft prognosticators is that Kaepernick stands a good chance of being a Day 2 selection.
Having never played in a prostyle offense — or even an offense that relied heavily on his ability to pass — Kaepernick is viewed as something of a project; a player with great physical skills in need of polish.
But in this day and age of spread offenses and multi-threat quarterbacks, Kaepernick is far from the only highly rated prospect who needs to show prospective employers that he can operate an offense from under center instead of the shotgun.
Or in Kaepernick's case, the Pistol.
Kaepernick became the first major college quarterback to have three seasons with 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing while leading a record-setting offense at Nevada.
The Wolf Pack's attack was called the Pistol, coach Chris Ault's brainchild in which the quarterback lined up in a short shotgun formation with a tailback behind him.
Kaepernick's message to NFL coaches has been: The Pistol might look odd, but it's a lot more like a prostyle offense than you might think.
"I think the offense I played in, more and more teams are realizing that we still have the same progressions that a lot of teams have," he said. "We still check our protections, check our plays the same way other teams do. It's not so much that we're doing different things, it's that we call it something different."
During one visit with an NFL team, when the coaches started breaking down Xs and Os with Kaepernick, he saw formations and motions identical to the ones Nevada used.
"Theirs is just called something different and they line up under center instead of the gun," he said.
Many of the questions about Kaepernick are similar to those faced by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton this year and Tim Tebow last year. The conventional wisdom is that if they can clean up the mechanics of their throwing motions and master the footwork necessary to drop back quickly and efficiently, they can be successful NFL quarterbacks.
"The biggest thing for me is being accurate when I do have workouts and showing them that my release isn't has long as everyone makes it out to be," Kaepernick said.
The fact is, every quarterback who enters the NFL will be learning a new and more intricate offense than they ran in college, so Kaepernick doesn't seem overly concerned about grasping the mental side of the game.
"For me that's going to be something very easy to pick up on," he said. "I know team to team it's going to vary, but I think that having that foundation that we still run similar things to what the pro teams are running is going to help me in the long run as far as having a team have confidence in me in being able to go under center and be successful."
And the vast majority of college quarterbacks will also have to refine their mechanics to get up to NFL standards, just like Kaepernick.
"I think when it comes down to it," he said, "you can play football or you can't."
As Kaepernick makes a tour of NFL cities in the upcoming days, his job is to convince at least one of those teams that he is one of those guys who can play in their league.