Name: Christian McCaffrey
Position fit: Running back and slot receiver with mismatch-creating potential in the passing game
Stats to know: Forced 43 missed tackles as a runner and 21 as a pass-catcher in 2016. Had the top receiving grade among running backs in 2015
What he does best:
- Elite change-of-direction and open-field running ability leads to missed tackles and big plays.
- Tremendous acceleration, can get to full speed in a hurry.
- Leg strength and balance to gain yards after initial contact, 3.30 yards after contact per attempt.
- Can make cuts with little loss of speed, causing second-level defenders to miss badly.
- Vision and patience to set up blocks, effective running with or without a lead blocker.
- Experience running in man/gap scheme at Stanford and cutting ability to run zone scheme.
- Can be used heavily in the pass game either running routes out of the backfield or the slot.
- Mismatch in the pass game as he is too fast for linebackers to cover.
- Versatility could allow an offensive coordinator to be very creative with his personnel groupings & alignments.
- Has the rare ability to take games over.
- Dangerous as both a kick and punt returner.
- A lot of carries and a lot of hits the last two years (745 combined touches).
- Could get lost in the mix if he goes to a team that is unwilling to be creative and tap into his versatile skillset.
- Slowed by injuries a bit in 2016.
- Needs to improve as a pass protector (surrendered 1 sack, 1 hit, 2 hurries in 2016).
- 50 drop rate ranked No. 51 among FBS running backs.
- Some teams may view him skipping the Sun Bowl negatively.
Player comparison: Marshall Faulk
McCaffrey’s unique skill-set is reminiscent of Marshall Faulk’s versatility and ability to play wide receiver — as well as a wide receiver does — in addition to playing running back. If McCaffrey can find a Mike Martz-type of innovative offensive coordinator he could make a big impact in the NFL.
Bottom line: McCaffrey has shown the last two years that he is capable of being a lead back in addition to a receiver and punt and kick returner. McCaffrey is equally at home at running back or at slot receiver so his future in the NFL will be closely tied to his usage and the specific role his coaching staff has in mind when they draft him. McCaffrey’s combination of agility, acceleration, open-field running ability and versatility will make him an asset to any team.