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Is Colin Kaepernick a 'third-tier' QB?

Colin Kaepernick has been known to glean some motivation from the "haters" on the Internet, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback oftentimes re-tweeting negative comments aimed his way to serve as fuel for his inner fire.

Now, this is not to suggest that our ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando had any devious designs with his second annual "Quarterback Tiers" project, but if Kaepernick wanted to, he could use his relatively pedestrian ranking as added incentive.

Kaepernick, who two years ago was lauded by ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski as having the talent to become "one of the greatest quarterbacks ever," was instead ranked as a third-tier talent, tied for 18th overall with Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals.

And after last season's regression -- his Total QBR fell from 68.6 in 2013, sixth in the NFL, to 55.9 last season (17th) -- you cannot really fault the ranking.

Of course, Sando's Insider project, which can be found hereInsider, is not merely his opinion; it consisted of a voting panel of 35 league insiders (eight personnel directors, six general managers, four head coaches, five offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, three salary-cap managers, one ex-general manager, two ex-head coaches and one offensive assistant coach) that "placed each of the 32 projected starters into one of five tiers, with Tier 1 reserved for the very best and Tier 5 reserved for the very worst."

The descriptions for each Tier?

  • Tier 1 quarterbacks can carry their teams week after week and contend for championships without as much help.

  • Tier 2 QBs are less consistent and need more help, but good enough to figure prominently into a championship equation.

  • Tier 3 are quarterbacks who are good enough to start but need lots of support, making it tougher to contend at the highest level.

  • Tier 4 is typically reserved for unproven starters or those who might not be expected to last in the lineup all season. Voters used the fifth tier sparingly.

So, yeah, Kaepernick ranks in the middle of the pack, and perhaps that makes the most sense, because he spent the beginning of the offseason reinventing himself by working with the likes of Kurt Warner on tweaking his delivery.

Still, the anonymous pollsters in the project did not seem all that impressed with Kaepernick's work and questioned if he truly improved on his "ability as a pocket passer" this offseason. The way Sando wrote it, "they see the football equivalent of a pitcher with little variety beyond a fastball."

Not to give away the whole story, but here's what one head coach surveyed said about Kaepernick: "He has unique ability, but having played him more than once, I never felt like he could beat you from the pocket and I still feel that way."

Still looking for more bulletin board material?

"I'm probably a little low on Kaepernick, but he is not disciplined," said a coach who put the Niners QB in the fourth tier. "I have not seen him beat anybody from the pocket."