Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey has had a stellar career at the collegiate level which has caused numerous NFL teams to look into acquiring him during the 2017 NFL Draft. Although it wouldn’t hurt for the Denver Broncos to draft a running back in the first round to compete with C.J. Anderson, the chances for McCaffrey to slip on a Broncos cap and jersey next to Roger Goodell seem pretty slim. There are many teams ahead of Denver in the draft that need to address their running back issues, so it would essentially take some masterful maneuvering from John Elway to persuade other team(s) to move up in the first round to obtain Christian.
McCaffrey was quite exceptional during his 2015 and 2016 seasons for the Cardinals and showed the nation his explosiveness in many facets of the game. He is truly an all-around player that could come in and make an impact on any team for whom he would play during his career, barring injury. Some experts may say that he needs to switch to receiver, but he can still be quite effective as a running back that has good speed and is able to catch the ball out of the backfield. His speed is relatively fast, posting a 4.48 40 yard dash at the combine and he has a vertical jump that is over three feet, which is valuable when creating space, running, or catching the ball.
There is a general consensus that McCaffrey is too small to be an every-down running back and that he doesn’t have the power to break tackles at the professional level. It is evident that he has agility and is able to shake off defenders to create some space, but lacks some acceleration to gain further yardage after contact (YAC). But one of his great advantages is his strides while running the ball and that he keeps moving his feet. He also has remarkable vision for the field of play that should easily translate over to his NFL career and make him exceptional for an offense.
McCaffrey is a raw talent, but considering his size, he could be a player that is essentially utilized like Danny Woodhead or Matt Forte as a multi-purpose back. McCaffrey is a great offensive weapon and great for any special teams coach because of his play-making at Stanford. He would possibly be best as a situational back that can be moved out to the slot receiver spot to give him the edge to make plays. The great thing about the NFL draft is that it gives teams the chance to gamble on players that may exceed expectations or absolutely bust, such as the Jamarcus Russell experiment with the Oakland Raiders (Las Vegas Raiders). He could end up being a beneficial back like Adrian Peterson. The draft is like playing a never-ending poker game.
The poker game at hand is whether the Broncos can draft McCaffrey with the 20th pick or if they would need to trade up to get him. Many draft experts are predicting that he will go between the 12th and the 19th picks, so he may be just inside of Denver’s pick. If the Broncos are able to trade up to get McCaffrey, it will most likely cost them their 1st round, 2nd round, and a later pick. This could be of great cost to a team trying to build for a championship run after failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in six years. With those picks given up, the Broncos could easily add young depth since the free agency market is pretty dry as of now.
Many Denver fans would love to see McCaffrey in Broncos orange and blue because of his father’s great career with the team. For many fans in the Mile High City, there absolutely is some sentimental reasoning behind drafting him; but is the value of giving up two or more draft picks worth picking him up? Realistically, the Broncos need to plug many holes on the team to get back to the top of the AFC West. Getting McCaffrey would mean that Elway and company would have to scavenge free agents or make trades to get players to fill those holes that are voided. Ergo the team could gamble on a potential great playmaker and deal with some of the other issues at a later time, which might assist in underwhelming expectations for the teams 2017-2018 NFL season.
The 2017 NFL Draft is full of intrigue and the McCaffrey situation is one of the main stories. Will he come home to the state that he grew up in and developed his football acumen or will he land somewhere else? It is definitely something that is on all Denver Broncos fans minds leading up to the draft this month.