Who’s a better runner than Colin Kaepernick? This scribe’s answer may surprise you


Is Colin Kaepernick the best running quarterback in the NFL?

According to Monday Morning Quarterback writer Andy Benoit, no. Neither is Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson.

Benoit wrote a piece Monday detailing why he thinks the best running quarterback in pro football is in fact Andrew Luck.

“The conclusions: Newton, [Russell] Wilson and Kaepernick are insanely talented athletes, Griffin was not himself last year and Luck is a comparable athlete to all of them and an overwhelmingly better quarterback,” he wrote.

Benoit based that off of sacks, scrambles and designed runs. He really did his homework. The numbers he presents (see below) make for a solid case.

The one thing I question is whether or not Luck can be considered a running quarterback?

When you think of Andrew Luck, you think of the next Peyton Manning. You picture him dropping back to pass, feet shuffling, arm cocked, head tiled slightly back, looking for a receiver to throw. Not a running lane to take.

You picture the opposite when you think of Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson. When you watch their highlights, more often than not, what are they doing? Running.

Last time I checked, the Colts offense isn’t geared to exploit Luck’s legs. How many times have you seen them dial up a QB run from beyond the red zone?

For Luck, running seems like the last option. For Kaepernick, Newton, Griffin and Wilson, it’s option 1B.

Back to what Benoit was saying …

Sacks were categorized under coverage sacks, blocker errors, protection concept and fault of the quarterback. According to Benoit, of the 36 sacks Luck took in 2013, not a single one was his fault. Newton took 47 and was on the hook for nine, the second lowest percentage (19.1). Kaepernick was third at 21.6 percent, followed by Griffin (26.3) and Wilson (31.1).

Scrambles were broken down into good decisions to scramble and successful scrambles.

Luck had the highest percentage of good decisions to scramble by a wide margin at 88.6. Kaepernick was second with 74.5 percent. Newton had the lowest percentage of good decisions, but he also had the second highest percentage of successful scrambles (73.2), a category Luck led at 75 percent.

Lastly, on designed runs, Luck only had two designed runs last season. Both of which were not successful. Griffin led the group with a 59.5-percent success rate on 42 designed runs. Newton had the most successful runs with 33 of 59 (17 more than Griffin attempted, which was good for a 55.9-percent success rate.

Benoit drew the following conclusions from his research:

– Newton is clearly a half-field reader. He also did not slide at all, though he managed to avoid any big hits. He gives himself up in the name of safety; his style is just to fall forward and essentially tackle himself.

– Wilson is another half-field reader, though his scrambles are, by indirect design, a major facet of Seattle’s offense. Seahawks coaches seem to instruct Wilson to run early in the down if that’s what he’s comfortable with. That changed the definition of some of his correct/incorrect scrambles.

– Kaepernick does not read the defense before the snap. You can tell because he shows no understanding of this basic quarterbacking concept: When one receiver is covered, it often means another receiver is not. There’s no awareness of route combinations.

– Griffin takes far too many punishing hits, especially at the end of runs in mildly critical situations (like, say, a 3rd-and-6 early in the first half). He’s been taught to protect himself, but the execution is not natural.

– Luck was impressive even on a lot of negative plays. He always tried to keep plays alive, running extremely late in the down and rarely compromising his physical readiness to throw.

Benoit went a step further by saying Luck would “be even further ahead of Griffin, Kaepernick, Newton and Wilson if we conducted a passing-game analysis,” based on what their decision-making numbers revealed.

Fair enough. But I’d still take Kaepernick over Luck if I was selecting a quarterback I planned to use as a runner.

I’m sure the last thing Jim Irsay wants to see is Luck trying to juke defenders.

That and a sobriety checkpoint.

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Follow Scott on Twitter @SJAdams

– Kaepernick received more goods news Thursday. (READ)

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