What If Colin Kaepernick Was Drafted By the Oakland Raiders?


Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Hue Jackson revealed that the Oakland Raiders were highly interested in selecting San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick during the 2011 NFL Draft.

They were hoping to move up into the top half of the second round to pick the highly athletic quarterback out of the University of Nevada, Reno, but the Niners were able to jump in front of the Raiders and take him before they could. The inability for Oakland to grab a potential franchise quarterback has led them to the position they are currently in, with multiple question marks on the depth chart at the quarterback position.

Jackson was very explicit in his comments about the Raiders’ interest in Kaepernick:

"“I think about it all the time, believe me. No question in my mind we wanted it to happen, and no question I thought it could happen. We wanted the kid in the worst way.”"

Kaepernick followed that with a quote of his own describing the interest from the Raiders:

"“Coach Jackson told me before the draft they were going to do everything they could to try to get me. I thought there was a good chance they’d pick me.”"

The Raiders wanted Kaepernick to be the quarterback to lead the franchise into the future. Jackson was salivating over the potential that Kaepernick flashed during his time in college. He had Kaepernick rated as the number one quarterback on their draft board, ahead of the top quarterbacks taken in Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert.

However, the Raiders were unable to secure a spot in the top of the second draft. They targeted the New England Patriots, who held the 33rd overall pick in the draft. New England wanted a second and third-round pick, but the Raiders only offered two third picks. They wanted to keep their second round to target Stefan Wisniewski to help out their struggling offensive line. This allowed the Niners to jump into the 36th pick slot and select Kaepernick before the Raiders picked at 48.

What if the Raiders were able to coax the 33rd overall pick from the Patriots and select Kaepernick? Would this change the balance of power in the Bay Area football scene? Would Kaepernick have developed into the player he is now under the tutelage of Jackson instead of Jim Harbaugh?

This leads to a few interesting thoughts about a potential change in history.

Assuming he develops properly, Kaepernick in the Silver and Black would have been a dream come true for the Raider Nation. Kaepernick could have provided them with their first truly dynamic quarterback since Rich Gannon was leading the team to a Super Bowl berth. He has a cannon for an arm that Al Davis seemed to truly covet in his quarterbacks. He also provides another dimension with his legs to be a true playmaker.

Jackson is considered to be a highly competent offensive-minded coach. During his first season as the Raiders’ offensive coordinator, Jackson made the Raiders a top-10 offense and the second best rushing offense in the entire NFL. He could have created a dynamic offense built around Kaepernick and running back Darren McFadden.

If the Raiders were able to select Kaepernick, they would have saved several draft picks that were used to try and fix the position. They traded a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick in 2013 to the Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer after Jason Campbell was lost for the season.

They also spent a third-round pick in 2012 when they selected Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft. Those draft picks could have been used to infuse the roster with younger talent that has been missing prior to Reggie McKenzie taking over last season.

You could assume that the roster would be in much better shape currently with those high value picks still in the Raiders possession. It could also be possible that Jackson keeps his job as head coach by not putting all his eggs in one basket with the Palmer trade to make a playoff push. The added continuity going into the following season would be much better for the team, as the offense took a major step back under Dennis Allen.

Kaepernick would have most likely taken over the starting quarterback position heading into last season and assuming he meets his growth, would have taken the league by storm much earlier. His play-making abilities would have turned the Raiders’ offense into an above average offense. His passing abilities would have opened up the running game for McFadden. When teams would load the box, he would have deep threats in Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey.

Kaepernick could have been the spark to breathe life back into the struggling franchise. He would have allowed to the team to hold on to key draft picks that could have been used to address the issues on the offensive line or on the defense. Kaepernick would have saved Jackson’s job and provided the team with continuity they have not experienced since Jon Gruden.

They could have been seen as a potential threat to the Broncos in the AFC West with a much-improved defense.

The Raider Nation is left with “what ifs” about what could have been with Kaepernick at the helm, instead of placing the hopes of the franchise on the shoulders of Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson.