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NFL Draft Player Rundown: Christian McCaffrey

Christian Mccaffrey Scouting Report NFL



Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey exploded onto the scene in 2015 and quickly became a household name among NCAA football fans.  His ability as a running back, wide receiver, and returner made him one of the most dynamic weapons in all of college football.

NFL scouts love bloodlines; McCaffrey’s bloodline certainly doesn’t disappoint.  His father, Ed McCaffrey, was a longtime NFL player, mostly for the Broncos.  His mother, Lisa Sime, was a college soccer player at Stanford.  Up and down McCaffrey’s bloodline, there are college athletes,  professional athletes, and Olympians.

In his college career, Christian McCaffrey broke numerous school, league, and bowl game records for all-purpose yards.  He is a dynamic athlete who will have success in various ways at the next level.

Scouting Report

McCaffrey has very good vision due to his strong mental processing skills.  His ability to see holes before they open up are what sets him apart from a lot of other backs.  He is also one of the best in the country with improvising; when the play breaks down, McCaffrey has an innate ability to turn nothing into something and create.

Where McCaffrey really makes his money is with his elite burst.  His elite athletic ability allows him to burst through the line of scrimmage when he sees an opening.  One word that comes to mind frequently with McCaffrey is patience.  He sometimes looks like Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.  Both running backs are patient at the line of scrimmage and then show elite burst when they find an opening.  McCaffrey excels at “getting skinny” in the hole. He can find a small crease in the defense and turn that into a 7 yard gain with regularity.

McCaffrey also knows how to make people miss.  He excels at making people miss in the hole and has subtle movements in the open field to make one guy miss with regularity.

With his diminutive size, you wouldn’t expect McCaffrey to finish runs the way he does. He shows good finishing ability on his runs, often dipping his head and charging into defenders for an extra 2-3 yards. He also has very good balance that allows him to stay up through contact and pick up extra yards.

McCaffrey’s ability in the pass game is also one of his best traits.  He’s very good with his route running and can create separation at the top of his routes with the best of them.  If McCaffrey wanted to become solely a wide receiver, I think he would be an excellent one.  He has very good hands and knows how to work his stem to create separation.  His double moves are consistently things of beauty.

McCaffrey is good with his ball skills.  He struggled with fumbles in 2015 but cleaned it up in 2016 and only had one the entire year.

McCaffrey likely won’t be a 3-down back at the next level.  He struggled when Stanford faced more physical defensive fronts and his diminutive size likely will limit him to being a role player at running back in the NFL.

I would like to see him be more decisive in the open field. While he has an elite ability to make people miss, he doesn’t always utilize it once he gets to the second level.  It’s as if he has so many options that he can’t choose one.

As a blocker, McCaffrey is adequate.  He is willing to get in the way of defenders and can be effective when cut blocking the oncoming pass-rusher.  When he’s left one-on-one with a pass-rusher and he can’t cut block, McCaffrey will struggle to delay the rush at all.

Overall, I think McCaffrey will be a successful player in the NFL for a long time.  His athletic ability and mental processing as a runner set him apart from a lot of running backs.  He will succeed the most on a team that uses him as a weapon all over the field and not exclusively at running back.  He will be a tremendous slot/wide receiver when used in that way.

Pro Comparison

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles

While McCaffrey is bigger than Sproles, both have the same dynamic versatility and will be effective weapons no matter where they are played.

Projected Round: 2

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