Christian McCaffrey - Stanford Cardinal
Position: Running Back
Hometown: Castlerock, CO
Experience: Sr.-2 year starter
40yd dash: 4.48 sec
Broad jump: 121 in
Vertical: 37.5 in
3-cone: 6.57 sec
20yd. Shuttle: 4.22 sec
Bench Press: 10 reps
The son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, Christian McCaffrey was born to play football. After shattering multiple football records at Valor Christian High School, McCaffrey accepted a scholarship from Stanford as a four star recruit. McCaffrey played in all 13 games as a true freshman and rushed for a measly 300 yards. The following year McCaffrey broke out as one of the best running backs in the nation, rushing for 2019 yards and receiving for another 645, not to mention racking up 1070 kick return yards and setting the record for most all purpose yardage in a single season. He followed up on his historic breakout year in 2016 with 1603 rushing yards and 310 receiving yards.
McCaffrey’s success in college earned him plenty of awards, most notably AP football Player of the Year and the Paul Hornung award for most versatile player. In addition, he was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2015.
McCaffrey was the center of Stanford’s offense and special teams, sometimes taking more than 30 carries a game. Stanford found plenty of creative ways to feature McCaffrey in the offense as both a receiver and a rusher, and regularly gave him snaps in the wildcat formation. The main concern with McCaffrey is how long he can last in the NFL after carrying for more than 300 times in his past two seasons at Stanford. Despite this, McCaffrey is a top 3 running back in this class and one of the most special prospects in the draft and will definitely command a high draft pick this April.
McCaffrey missed one game in 2016 due to an ankle injury.
As you can probably tell by his 4.48 second 40 yard dash, Christian McCaffrey is fast. McCaffrey’s play speed matches his combine numbers which can be seen in how fast he bursts through holes opened up by his offensive line. McCaffrey’s acceleration allows him to fly past linebackers before they get a chance to make a play. You can clearly see a “second gear” from McCaffrey in the open field which allows him to take off and create separation between himself and pursuing defenders. Not only does McCaffrey have supersonic speed, but he is also extremely agile. McCaffrey has great bend and quick feet to make some downright nasty cuts, with the change of direction skills to turn on a dime. McCaffrey seems to always be in motion with an unceasing downhill mentality, constantly making defenders miss and getting into the second level.
The first thing that jumps out on McCaffrey’s film is his patience and supernatural-like instincts to identify holes opened up by his offensive line. McCaffrey is excellent at diagnosing a play, anticipating openings in the offensive line, turning his pads upfield, and bursting through the correct gap without skipping a beat. It’s clear McCaffrey knew Stanford’s blocking scheme inside out when considering his ability to anticipate the exact moment a running lane would appear. At times McCaffrey will practically stand still behind his line diagnosing which running lane will allow him to gain the most yards, a skill few running backs possess and one that is highly valued in the NFL An appropriate comparison to McCaffrey would be Le’veon Bell, who’s probably the best in the league at forecasting the actions of his offensive line. On the flip side, McCaffrey will attempt to make “hero” plays from time to time by trying to turn the corner without adequate blocking, however, this was a rarity from him. Generally speaking, McCaffrey is a mature runner who follows his blockers and stays within the boundaries of his running lanes which will benefit him greatly in the NFL.
After weighing in at 202 pounds at the combine, it’s not surprising that McCaffrey’s power is lackluster. McCaffrey will get eaten up by defensive linemen and linebackers if he isn’t able to make them miss. That being said, McCaffrey has enough power to break through arm tackles and the balance to stay upright if he gets tripped up. However, he just doesn’t possess the strength to put his head down and run through defenders.
McCaffrey was lined up all over the field as a receiver in Stanford’s offense. He caught passes out of the backfield, in the slot, and even on the perimeter- and he looked good doing it. McCaffrey runs crisp routes that allow him to gain separation from the sluggish linebackers that cover him. Route running, combined with great hands and the ability to gain yards after the catch, makes McCaffrey the most dangerous receiving back in this draft class.
Ball Security- 4.7/5
McCaffrey does a good job protecting the ball, only fumbling 3 times in his career as a starter. In the two fumbles I was able to watch, McCaffrey made minor mistakes that he usually doesn’t make which led to the ball coming out, which is bound to happen at some point in the game of football. Overall ball security isn’t a problem for McCaffrey as he always keeps the ball protected and doesn’t leave it hanging out for defenders to snatch out of his grip.
Summary: McCaffrey is one of the elite prospects in this draft class due to his speed and agility as well as his patience as a runner. Coaches will be able to feature McCaffrey as a key player in their offense because of his ability to line up all over to field as a receiver to create mismatches against linebackers. The only drawback to McCaffrey’s game is his lack of power which stems from his small stature, he’ll have to add muscle to stay on the field during short yardage situations. Despite this, McCaffrey has the tools to be a starter on day one of the upcoming NFL season.
If Drafted by the Packers:
It would take a miracle for McCaffrey to fall all the way to 29, but if he did Ted Thompson shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. While Ty Montgomery was serviceable last year, the departure of Eddie Lacy in free agency leaves the Packers with a hole at the starting running back spot that McCaffrey could instantly fill. In addition to being the Packers starting running back, McCaffrey would add huge value to the Packers as a receiver, and a backfield consisting of McCaffrey and Montgomery would be a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators. The offensive possibilities of a backfield with not one but two receiving backs are endless, and could unlock another dimension for a stale Packers offense.
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