Houston Texans: Facing The Colin Kaepernick Question

The Houston Texans need a new quarterback and, if the 2017 NFL Draft doesn’t yield the right rookie, Colin Kaepernick may be the team’s best shot at winning.

With news that the Houston Texans are bringing in quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes for pre-draft visits (per Pro Football Talk), attention once again turns to the game’s most important position. Either one of those two players could well be the future at the position for the team. But, as noted by Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt, it is unlikely that at least one of them will be available when the Texans pick with the 25th overall selection. In fact, they both could be gone.

This may not be perfectly relevant when the 2017 NFL Draft finally rolls around. The Texans could always draft a different passer in a later round. Players like Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott have all made the post-first-round quarterback more popular in the minds of fans, and likely teams as well.

If the Texans don’t have a player they like — Watson, Mahomes, or otherwise — available at any of their selections, they should not be forced to reach. This quarterback class may have some stars, but it is a gamble with no clear top selection and no clear, definitive first-rounders. The Texans, who currently field Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden, have put on a bold face and said they are comfortable with them both (per Toro Times). If this is true, reaching for a sub-talent is a clear waste of draft capital.

Besides, there are other options available. Specifically, another quarterback drafted outside the first round back in 2011: Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has been a divisive figure due to his social stances in the last year, but there is no doubt he can play the quarterback position. The former Super Bowl stud has fallen out of vogue just a few seasons after he lit the NFL world on fire and was easily the most electric quarterback in the game.

A few seasons can change any player’s prospects, but it is unlikely that Kaepernick has become such a poor player that he couldn’t give Savage or Weeden a run for their money. In fact, Kaepernick looks like he might be back on track.

After losing a position battle to Blaine Gabbert, Kaepernick finally got to show he was still NFL-worthy for 11 starts in 2016. He won just one of those games. But statistically, he became one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL.

Kaepenrick’s interception percentage (1.2 percent) was the sixth-lowest in the NFL. His two nearest competitors were the hyper-efficient Aaron Rodgers and 2016 MVP Matt Ryan. Further, 4.8 percent of Kaepernick’s attempts went for touchdowns, good for 13th in the NFL, which was just ahead of Carson Palmer. In total, Kaep had 16 touchdowns to four interceptions, playing tactful, efficient football that can turn a contender like the Houston Texans into a Super Bowl champion.

That, is exactly what the Texans are looking for. After the short-lived Brock Osweiler experiment yielded too many turnovers for the defense to carry the team, the Texans know they only need an efficient quarterback to help get over the hump. Tack on Kaepernick’s ability to run, and the Texans may have a bonafide stud at the position for the first time in franchise history.

While that is clearly optimistic thinking, it is the kind of thinking that gets Kaepernick on teams’ radars. It’s exactly the kind of thinking that has the Texans wondering if he is a good fit. Yet public perception says otherwise, with fans voting on Pro Football Talk coming out essentially split 50/50 over Kaepernick or Savage being better.

Unfortunately, that is the narrative surrounding Kaepernick, hurting his marketability. Without winning recently and with off-field baggage, Kaepernick simply doesn’t seem feasible for many teams. This makes him a last-chance option for the Texans following the 2017 NFL Draft. If someone like Mahomes or Watson doesn’t fall in the team’s lap, Kaepernick may suddenly look a lot more appealing.

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