Finding Broncos: Scouting Stanford Running Back Christian McCaffrey

To kick off Mile High Huddle’s “Finding Broncos” scouting reports, Senior Draft Analyst Erick Trickel breaks down a fan favorite in Christian McCaffrey.

Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Stanford Cardinal

http://www.scout.com/player/161471-christian-mccaffrey?s=101

Combine Measurements 

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 202

Arm Length: 30”

Hands: 9”

Combine Results

40-Yard Dash: 4.48 seconds*

Bench Press (225 lb): 10 reps

Vertical Jump: 37.5 inches*

Broad Jump: 121 inches

3-Cone Drill: 6.57 seconds*

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.22 seconds*

60-Yard Shuttle: 11.03 seconds*

* denotes a top performer

Stats

Year Rush Att Yards Rush TD Receptions Yards Receiving TD
2014 42 300 0 17 251 2
2015 337 2,019 8 45 645 5
2016 253 1,603 13 37 310 3

Special Teams

Year Kick Returns Yards Kick Return TD Punt Returns Yards Punt Return TD
2014 5 91 0 9 154 0
2015 37 1,070 1 15 130 1
2016 14 318 0 10 96 0

Injury History

Suffered a hamstring injury that slowed him down during the middle of the 2016 season.

Character

No concerns.

Pros

Versatile and can help a team in a variety of ways. Scheme and role diversity.  Really good control of his feet, and good footwork for instant cuts.

Above average vision, which McCaffrey combines with outstanding patience. Keeps his feet moving. Doesn’t waste movement laterally often. Just goes downhill and picks up yards.

Knows how to set up blockers in front of him. Mismatch maker as a receiver out of the backfield with linebackers. Really good hands. Can make himself smaller through the hole. Sinks his hips when he is making cuts.

Protects the football. High football IQ. Comes from a football family. Can make defenders miss. Reads the defense early and processes the information quickly to gash the defense.

Has many gears when carrying the football with ability to change shift instantly. Fluid mover as a runner and when running routes. Great complimentary play style. Best when in space.

Cons

Not built to be a bell-cow running back for a team. Has over 600 touches in his last two years in college. Doesn’t maintain speed into contact, or convert the speed into power when going into contact.

Won’t break many tackles at the NFL level. Relied on an excellent blocking system at Stanford to create huge running lanes.

Can be too patient when running stretch plays and misses the cut-back lane. Has good speed, but burst is just average. Pass protection isn’t want NFL teams often desire for a running back.

NFL speed will give him trouble. Will struggle in short yardage situations in the NFL. Concerns about his play speed.

Overview

McCaffrey is a really good player, but he isn’t the bell-cow that you normally take in the first round. The blocking system he had at Stanford helped him out a lot.

Stanford's scheme protected McCaffrey from a lot of contact. When he met with NFL-caliber contact early in the play, it didn’t end well for him.

There are a variety of ways that McCaffrey can be used that play to his strengths. Returns, screens, stretch plays — anything that can get him the ball in space. Let him use his vision and patience to create a play.

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What his draft stock comes down to is this; is he a 20-plus touches per game player, or a 10-15-touch player (not including returns)? I view McCaffrey as a complimentary back, who is more of an offensive weapon.

That isn’t a first round pick. If you take a running back in round one, it is to be a bell-cow 20-plus carries per game player.

The Broncos should have their eyes on Christian McCaffrey. As everyone knows, there is a history of McCaffrey in Denver with Christian’s father, Ed McCaffrey. His name alone shouldn’t be why the Broncos take him, however, as many seem to think it is.

With C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker under contract, using a first round pick on a running back is just a waste, especially when there are going to be a good number of better players on the board than McCaffrey. Now, when they get to the second round, the Broncos should take a hard look at McCaffrey, if he's still on the board.

Fit With The Broncos

McCaffrey fits with the Broncos and gives Offensive Cordinator Mike McCoy that weapon that he had in San Diego with Danny Woodhead. It also gives the Broncos a No. 3 receiver option, depending on the circumstance, and a return man, which is needed. With McCaffrey being scheme and role diverse, there really isn’t a team he can’t fit with.

Per sources, the range of McCaffrey varies team to team. The highest an NFL team has him, that I am aware of, is in the 22-27 range of the first round.

The lowest that I am aware of has McCaffrey as a fifth round pick, due to this team's belief that the Stanford blocking system made him look like a better player than he actually is and that behind their offensive line he would end up failing. They also don't believe he offers value as a returner at the NFL level. 

Draft Grade: Early/Mid Second

Where He Goes: Late first/Early Second

Erick Trickel is the Senior Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and on Facebook

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