There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2017 NFL Draft. Today we will be looking at a scouting report for junior running back Christian McCaffrey, Stanford Cardinals.
The most talented son of former Bronco receiver, Ed McCaffrey, only made one controversial move: he skipped his last bowl game. Christian is an exciting player that is hard not to like, but there is some concern that with his diminutive size he might not be able to carry the load as a full-time NFL running back. I’m a high school football coach and educator by trade, so I am going to break down what I saw in the seven games I reviewed of the junior runner: 2016 contests versus USC, California, Rice, Washington, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon. All of these videos are available via draftbreakdown.com. These are my thoughts:
Cons: He isn’t very big at 6’ 202 lbs. and doesn’t appear to be able to pack on any more weight. McCaffrey does not have a large bubble butt like most running backs have; plus he has skinny receiver legs like his father. There are times he runs a bit too high which allows him to take more contact that he usually glides off when he runs lower. While the back can run inside, he seems to like bouncing plays outside which may work in the Pac-12; that won’t work as well at the next level. The former Cardinal got used a lot in his sophomore and junior years which caught up with him missing the 2016 Notre Dame game. The runner needs a seam created for him to exploit or he gets swallowed up. I also noticed the former Stanford back likes to go airborne in short yardage situations. In the NFL, he will have a lot more company when he launches himself which will limit the effectiveness of that maneuver. His performance of ten reps on the 225 lbs. bench press at the NFL Combine shows a lack of upper body strength.
Pros: McCaffrey is a 20-year-old playmaker with a lot of juice in his legs who is in my top five 2017 rookie running backs. Here is what I love about him: outstanding vision to read blockers and find cut back lane, uses jump cuts, jukes, and stiff-arms, amazing balance, bouncy/light feet, changes directions with a single step, makes the first man miss, quicks in lateral agility, and hurdles over defenders. The young playmaker is slippery, works well in tight spaces (gets small in the hole), and can put down his foot while exploding to daylight in the open field. McCaffrey knows everyone’s job on the field and will even use an official as a shield to get extra yardage. He keeps his feet chopping, falling forward especially in goal to go situations.
In the passing game, McCaffrey anchors himself well and can block defenders coming in to rush his quarterback. He has soft hands, grabs the pigskin in stride, tracks it well in the air, and can contort himself to make the difficult receptions. Stanford used him on a lot of different routes: screens, wheel routes with double moves, and he was an elegant weapon. If the back needs to throw the ball, he can do that too with career stats of two touchdowns on two completions out of three for 39 yards. His speedy Combine performance shows he is more than athletic to compete in the NFL with a 6.57 three cone, 4.22 20 yard shuttle, along with a 4.48 40 yard dash.
Overall impressions: This 20-year-old can do it all. I see him as a blend of Bengals Gio Bernard and former USC/NFL star Reggie Bush. He needs to go to a team that has an offensive coordinator that will not line him up as a traditional between the tackles runner. Get him in space, use him in the kickoff/punt return game, while limiting his touches to twenty a game and he should have a good career. Otherwise, McCaffrey will need to convert to a slot receiver in short order as he is not built to take 300 carries a year.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my scouting reports with you throughout the next several months, so keep checking the site for more content. Please check out my other content as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.