RB Christian McCaffrey, 5’11 202 Stanford
What He Does Well
Explosive athlete who can make quick cuts and change direction fluidly. Able to accelerate and get to top speed within only a couple of steps. Has the speed to reel off long runs and score a touchdown whenever the ball is in his hands. Able to make lateral cuts to make defenders miss within the hole. A patient runner who lets the hole develop and then is able to accelerate through. Runs with balance able to bounce off body shots and break through tackles while maneuvering through traffic. Shows the vision to pick up creases and set up defenders to hit the hole. Talented route runner whose able to use stutter steps and quick cuts to create separation out in his routes. Can be used as a receiver out of backfield or lined up as a receiver. Soft hands whose able to make the routine catches within his frame or adjusting and attacking the ball to make the catch. Weapon in the return game as a punt and kick returner.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) April 3, 2017
Where He Lacks
While he shows the ability to run between the tackles his slight frame may not be able to withstand the pounding in the NFL. With 821 total touches in his three years raised questions on his longevity and how much he has left. He has the speed to have long runs but lacks that elite long speed that does allow him to get caught from behind. Lacks the power to consistently break tackles.
In the era of a pass happy NFL we are seeing running backs with elite receiver skills becoming increasingly popular. Since his explosion breaking Barry Sanders single season all purpose yard record as a sophomore McCaffrey has cemented his status as one of the top running backs in this class. McCaffrey utilizes quick change of direction and speed to make defenders miss and hit creases. But what makes him so special is his ability to be a weapon in the passing game running crisp routes and making easy catches. Teams can flex McCaffrey out as a slot receiver and use him to beat linebackers over the middle or downfield. While there is a lot to like about McCaffrey there are concerns that his size (200lbs) and overuse at Stanford can lead him to break down in the NFL. Luckily for him the days of bell cow between the tackles running backs is gone and he can still be utilized as a teams main running back running outside runs and in the passing game. McCaffrey will really benefit by going to a team that has a creative play caller that can fully utilize him. At this point McCaffrey is a lock to go in the first round of the NFL draft and could go as early as Carolina with the 8th overall pick, but it would be hard to see him fall past the Buccaneers or Broncos who are picking 19th and 20th respectfully.
Player Comparison: Brian Westbrook