Why is it so hard to get excited about Kevin Kolb?


That's the question I'll really be asking if Seattle trades for him.  For now, I'm just taking a quick look, noting that not only are most Seahawk fans less than ambivalent about the premise, but most fans of teams needing a QB are struck with the same lack of appeal.

Yet I don't think it's warranted.  I don't think my own lack of interest is warranted.  Or at least based on real tangible data.  How seriously have I considered the thought that Kolb could be ours, and good?

Before taking a look at Kolb, let's look at what a trade might look like for the Seahawks.  Considering a cost similar to Schaub and Hasselbeck, a very high 2nd round pick, 550-600 points on the ol' value chart, and looking at the similar positioning Seattle (25) and Philadelphia (23) have in the draft, here's the best scenario I could come up with:

Seattle: 1st rd, 1.25 (720 points) + 6th rd from Detroit, 6.13, 173rd overall (23.2 points)

Philadelphia: Kolb + 3rd rd, 3.23, 87th overall (155 points)

Kolb would cost 588.2 points, worth about the 32nd overall pick or the 1st pick in the 2nd round.  Seattle would get a capable QB with less risk than probably any prospect in the draft, with no physical limitations.  They would retain their 2nd round pick, gain a 3rd round and retain their early 4th round.  With 2 needs on the offensive line, they'd have reasonable possibility to come home with 4 potential starters, one of them a QB.

Now then.  Quick trips in the wayback machine indicate Kolb's somewhat prototypical as a passer in physical talent.  Heightened production in Houston's offense would explain a lower draft grade.  How well prolific small school offense prospects fare in the NFL is an often intriguing question, but it often is not answered encouragingly.  

Positive cerebral attributes like vision and defense reading in the scouting reports would figure to make Kolb stand out from that crew, though.  There are requisite athletic attributes to a QB, and he can excel at the position with higher marks in arm strength and accuracy.  But the mental aspect is what sets QBs apart, and from the sounds of it, Kolb has a good enough head to become a franchise QB.



So let's adjust the dial to 2010.  We've got meaningful NFL games to look at, here.  I didn't look into 2009 games because I'm less concerned with how Kolb's developed and more concerned with what kind of a QB he has become.  He's not fully developed but enough time has passed to think of him less as a prospect with upside and risk, and more as a professional QB with tendencies and capabilities.

But quickly, in 2009 in Andy Reid's offense, which is something of a grandfather to Darrell Bevell's, as far as we know, Kolb performed to the tune of


  • 6.7 ANY/A, on par with McNabb (11th among qualified starters), and a good dip below Vick; Hasselbeck's 2009 ANY/A was 4.6 & 24th
  • 16% DVOA, 16th
  • 0.16 WPA/G (T-9th) and 0.09 EPA/P (T-17th); Hasselbeck was -0.10 (33rd) & -0.06 (28th)


Not bad for a young guy.  But in 2010, not quite so hot.


  • 4.5 ANY/A (on par with Derek Andersen.  Yes.  The Cardinals' Derek Andersen) (Hasselbeck 4.9)
  • -2.7% DVOA, 31st (Hasselbeck 35th)
  • -0.15 WPA/G (worse than Clausen)  and 0.02 EPA/P (on par with Hasselbeck)


So what's up with that?  The significant games he played, with significant time, started in October against McNabb & the Redskins.

He then beat the 49ers, had a great game against the Falconsplayed poorly against the Titans and then Vick returned.  Kolb played a significant game to end the season against the Cowboys.  The game was not significant for the playoffs, and the Eagles rested starters.  But that scenario can speak some about a player, so the game was meaningful to Kolb.  He lost to Stephen McGee at home.

That's my rhetorical side coming out; I try to keep it chained in the closet.  I know QBs don't win games, nor do they beat opposing QBs.  But the result is eyebrow-raising enough to be highlighted.

So, take a gander if you'd like.  The thing about highlights is, you only get to see highlights.  Here's some supplemental material, New Orleans 2009, a bit more than 2-minute game highlights, but nothing approaching comprehensive.

But the thing about an already relatively prolific passer like Kolb is, if the highlights speak poorly of you, it's all we really need to see.

Kolb can play QB.  He can play well.  If there's anything remarkable about his passing, as far as the good and successful stuff, it's his touch.  He's a well-rounded passer, capable.  And he's got really good touch.  

Two issues stand out, and they were glaring, for highlights.  First, he's thrown a lot of interceptions.  Many feel rather repetitive, as far as what went wrong.  It looks like Kolb is the kind of QB who surveys the field seeing receivers, routes, and open space.  You throw to where your receiver will be in open space, right?

He doesn't seem to see defender angles well.  Several highlight INTs in the games above are to routes broken off with absolute ease.  Pass defenders underneath almost look surprised at the passes he throws them.  A couple wild misthrows are in the mix, but mostly he's accurate.

Look back at his college scouting reports, and we see he put it all together his senior year, but had quite a problem with INTs his junior year.  Prolific passer but with quite an expense of turnovers.

The other issue that stands out is the way he directs his passes.  I believe it's tied to the INTs.  He doesn't stare down receivers, and he's got a good release, it's quick.  But there's something about his windup and appears to include his feet.  Good footwork and balance, but he frequently shuffles his feet in preparation to throw.  He drops back, looks good, keeps his feet moving, keeps balanced, looks good.

Then you can almost see the decision to throw.  Gallop-step, gallop-step, launch!  It amounts to a major, awful double-clutch.  

It's not dissimilar to Charlie Whitehurst's windup.  Charlie's got a good arm, and he winds up and releases fairly fast.  But there's some mental part of his windup, it's evident on tape.  You can again almost see the decision to throw, and a solid beat before physical movement manifests the actual throw.

Both these things are correctable.  It would not be surprising for the turnover proneness to be abated somewhat by Pete Carroll on Turnover Wednesday.  On the other hand, I give a little benefit of the doubt to the Eagles' coaching staff.  These are pretty bad mistakes.  Kolb is Whitehurst's age, yet has 7 starts and has appeared in 7 other games.  

Kolb looks to me like he'll end up as something like Jon Kitna; a very capable and prolific passer who can make impressive plays, who doesn't have a nuanced grasp of responding to pressure, with significant ball control issues that ultimately will weigh down his career.

In 2005 Malcolm Gladwell introduced us to the concept of thin-slicing -- the remarkable ability of the human mind to intuitively make rough approximations and calculations of things, with minimal amounts of information in sometimes near-instantaneous timeframes, with fairly good accuracy.  The Field Gulls community is appropriately well versed in skepticism, but sometimes the epistemology dogma goes too far.  Sometimes we can reasonably figure out quite a bit, off the cuff, reasonably accurately.  Far from comprehensive, my closer and more substantive look at Kolb mostly serves to reinforce my initial impression of Kolb, and it seems that impression is shared by most NFL fans.  I would be very wary of trading for Kevin Kolb.

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