The Denver Broncos Should Avoid Drafting Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey In The First Round

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is an enticing player to a Broncos team devoid of talent in their offensive backfield. But does McCaffrey make sense for the Broncos in the first round? Nick Kendell examines.

The Denver Broncos offense has been a major disappointment in 2016, to put it bluntly. While many expected a somewhat low scoring year given that the Broncos were going from a Hall of Famer to a relative unknown at quarterback, the offense still has fallen short of expectations.

This season, the Broncos offense ranks 21st in points per game and 24th in yards per game. Things have gotten decidedly worse since the bitter loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12, with the offense averaging 11 points and 288 yards per game over the last three weeks. With not many answers on the current roster and the Broncos playoff hopes dwindling, many fans will now turn to the NFL Draft in hopes of finding a cure to fix the ailing offense.

One obvious choice that will be brought up ad nauseam would be John Elway and company selecting Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey had a borderline legendary season last year, leading Stanford to a Rose Bowl victory, destroying the Iowa Hawkeyes to the tune of 368 all-purpose yards, breaking Barry Sanders’ previously record, and coming in second in the Heisman race.

While this season has not quite lived up to the play Stanford and McCaffrey exhibited last year, he's still had a great year and was a constant threat in the run game, pass game, and return game. Not to mention, Christian is also the son of former Bronco wide receiver great and three-time Super Bowl Champion Ed McCaffrey.

While McCaffrey would obviously provide a spark to the Broncos stuttering offense this season, ultimately, Elway would be wise going a different direction round one. The Broncos invested heavily last offseason in  C.J. Anderson, making him the 12th-highest paid running back in the NFL, and also drafted rookie Devontae Booker in the fourth round last April.

Kapri Bibbs is a player worth remembering as well, as he appeared to be taking control of the Bronco backfield before going down with a season-ending injury. Also, McCaffrey isn’t a perfect fit for the offense, because he is a player that is going to need to get a fair amount of touches in the pass game as well as in the run game. If Denver ran an offense like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, or New Orleans Saints, then McCaffrey would make more sense in the first round. Instead, Denver is a team that needs their running backs to carry hard between the tackles on zone runs 20 times per game.

Listed at 6-foot-0 and 210 pounds, many scouts are concerned about McCaffrey's size and future durability issues. While he hasn’t had a serious injury for Stanford yet, given his frame and already heavy usage throughout his collegiate career, he does not indicate a player who could hold up as an every-down bell-cow in the NFL. Rather, McCaffrey needs to be schemed touches in the pass game with not many run plays, like a Percy Harvin-type.

While a gadget offensive weapon is a great luxury for any offense, they are not often worth a first round selection in the NFL. Furthermore, Denver has a large amount of other holes to fill on the depth chart that make greater sense to use a round-one pick on. Talents on the offensive line like Garett Bolles from Utah, or Cameron Robinson from Alabama, would be an excellent selection.

Denver has obvious needs on the offensive line, and with Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson question marks to return next season, it may be wise to finally invest a first round pick on a tackle, if a good one falls. Denver may have a chance to add a difference maker on defense as well.

Five Hot Threads On The MHH Forums
Kubiak Has Lost The Locker Room Denver's Offensive Doldrums The Manning Hangover Brock Osweiler Benched Should Denver Have Drafted Dak Prescott?

Malik McDowell from Michigan State is an alien of a player that creates chaos on the defensive line, similar to former Bronco Malik Jackson. Denver could also potentially select an inside linebacker such as Reuben Foster from Alabama or Zach Cunningham for Vanderbilt

Denver has struggle up front this year, and adding a stud to the front seven could only help the run defense. John Elway and the front office would be much wiser to let the draft fall and select the best player available at a position of need and value in round one, and pass on franchise legacy prospect Christian McCaffrey.

Denver simply has too many other needs and there will be too many other good players available to justify spending a first round selection on running back, let alone one who isn’t a bell-cow. It is most important to judge the players that are selected based on their film, talent, and value, rather than based on the name on the back of their jersey.

McCaffrey has been a very good player during his career at Stanford, but he is not worth a first round pick for the Broncos this year. With all that being said, if McCaffrey — for some reason —— slips to Denver in the second round, I would hope Elway pulls the trigger to add that offensive weapon to the 2017 Broncos offense.

Nick Kendell is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ndkendell.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and on Facebook

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE! 


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories