Rookie Roundup: QB Mike Kafka

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The Interview

The interview was set up with Jay from, a blog regarding everything Northwestern football.  Jay is a passionate and intelligent blogger of the Northwestern Wildcats, and he shares with you his four-year observation of Mike Kafka!

1.  Tell us about Mike Kafka based on your observations (off and on field).
Kafka is a character kid.  Most Northwestern fans are left pondering "why the heck didn't he start in '07 and '08?" after his incredible 2009 season.  Kafka started as a freshman briefly before suffering an injury early in the season.  He wasn't heard from again until his junior year when starter CJ Bacher went down late in the season.  Kafka promptly set the all-time Big Ten rushing record for a QB with an eye-popping 217 yards vs Minnesota in a thrilling last-second win.  Because of that game Kafka entered the 2009 season with the reputation of a "running QB".  As you likely know we run the spread so the big question was his ability to throw downfield.  Well, he answered that resoundingly.  He's got a great arm, and despite a 5-INT game in the crazy Outback Bowl game (2 of the 5 were receiver miffs) he proved he's got the moxie and grit of a winner. He's not the yeller and screamer rah-rah type in the huddle. He's the calm,cool and collected cerebral type with great athleticism.  I'll send you the link to the Outback Bowl highlights which should answer ny questions you have about him.  My only regret is we didn't go deep more often with him, but that was more a result of our possession receiving corps and lack of many true lightning quick gamebreakers.

2.  Why is QB Mike Kafka a perfect fit for the Philadelphia Eagles specifically?

Great question.  If I had to say it in one word it would be versatility.  Kafka is a deceivingly big guy who can take NFL hits on the run and keep on ticking.  He's got good pocket sense and that always important "escapability" intangible. Candidly the Eagles have had such big changes in offensive personnel I'm not up to speed on their 2010 gameplan, but any guy who is pop on his pass, great accuracy, is a quick study and offers a dual threat is of value to ANY NFL team.

3.  Which current NFL veteran would you compare Mike Kafka to?

Man, what a great question.  I'm searching through the mental rolodex and coming up empty.  It is hard to level the playing field based on NU's pass-happy spread that fosters both large passing attempt stats and more opportunities for rushing for a QB.  This may or may not go over well in Philly, but Donovan McNabb comes to mind.

4.  You've watched Mike play at NWU for several years, tell us something that many experts haven't mentioned about his play?

In this day and age of draft saturation that's also a tough one.  It did take a while for Mike to assert himself in his senior year as last year's team being HIS team.  He was almost a tad stoic and you wanted more pump-fisting and rah-rah.  In the NFL, not as much.  I think his maturity is likely the most underrated element of his game which sounds weird when discussing a one-year starter.  He's almost unflappable in many ways and I get the sense he'd be comfortable and respected stepping in to the NFL huddle. Again, he can throw deep and has good arm strength which he doesn't get nearly enough credit for because of the Northwestern dink-and-dunk spread system.

5. Give us your realistic expectations for Kafka in his rookie season, as well as his NFL future?

Realistically, he could secure a #2 spot on the Eagles depth chart and within a year or two be fully up to speed and ready to go when he gets the chance.  Most NU guys are smart and the transition to the NFL is relatively smooth.  The 'Cats seemingly are one of the better producers of undrafted, yet productive NFL players that stick.  When you talk about Northwestern guys drafted, they almost all stick.  As for his future it is a tough call.  I think he has the combo of assets to be an NFL starter - I really do.  He's got thick enough skin and a good enough sense of humor to be able to make it in the toughest sports market and I think he likely endeared himself to Eagles fans when he referenced the fact he hopes he doesn't give them anything to boo about.  His development from '08 to '09 was tremendous and you can bet he'll continue to develop on the fast track with pro level coaches mentoring him.  There will be some adjustment to the pro style sets vs the NU spread but Mike's very smart and will transition well.

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