NFL Draft Bible Scouting Report: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford, Junior, Class of 2017
Writeup/Analysis by Justin Gammel, NFL Draft Bible
Scouting Report – Player Analysis
Lean but proportionate body frame with solid thickness in his upper and lower body. He has little body fat and is a decently twitchy athlete. A patient runner with quick, nimble feet, he excels between the tackles and is adept at letting his blocks set up in front of him. He rarely forces the action and is seen putting his hand on the backs of his offensive linemen directing them where he wants them to go. He understands angles and routinely baits defenders into committing to a tackling angle before he makes a break into the second level. Follows a script so to speak when running as he’s always aware of the intent of the play and makes sure he gets the yards that have been blocked for him. Rarely does he get caught trying to switch fields or trying to freelance for more yards. He stays disciplined always running north/south. His vision is excellent and he could easily excel in a power or zone running scheme. While he’s not a powerful runner, he has an effective stiff arm which he times and places well allowing him to push tacklers off of him. He breaks off a lot of big runs utilizing his keen ability to set up angles and then break away with his above average burst and long speed. While not a super loose athlete, he can change direction easily with his quick feet and able hips. A weapon in the passing game— catches out of the backfield, in the slot and also lined up out wide. He runs nuanced routes and catches the ball effortlessly on both sides of his body always with his thumbs together showing off very natural hands. His movement and ability to catch while running shows off his great balance and body control. He also has experience returning kicks and punts and has been very reliable in this area.
Isn’t skinny but he has a thin, tall build for a true bell-cow running back. He has a bit of a high running style and doesn’t finish runs with great pad level making him very susceptible to hits on his lower body. His top end speed and burst are adequate but neither are anything more than above average. This allows better athletes to easily gain ground on him and dictate his running path. In space, he’s not overly explosive or shifty and relies on nuance and his football IQ to make defenders miss. While praised for being a disciplined runner, it’s been shown that when he’s faced stout defenses who make him have to create more to gain yardage, he lacks running creativity and has a bad tendency to stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage waiting for a hole to open. Even when the boundary is wide open, he refuses to bounce plays outside which leads to scouts wondering if he can get rid of this tunnel vision in the NFL where he’ll surely be asked to create for himself. His game lacks a power aspect as he doesn’t deliver any pop to tacklers and is easily brought down by arm tackles. For being such a balanced athlete he doesn’t run well through contact and is unable to remain flexible and pull away from tacklers who try and latch themselves onto him. His pad level must improve on contact or he’ll be wide open to lower body injuries and won’t be able to fall forward for extra yards. Watching him you wish you saw more burst in tight areas but he needs more of a runway to be able to drop his hips and explode through the hole or away from defenders. Pass protection is still a work in progress for him as his technique currently consists of dropping his head and praying he gets enough of blitzers to give his quarterback time.
Entered the 2016 season with a ton of warranted hype. He’s versatile and productive and even the untrained eye can see that his skill set and style can immediately help an NFL team in need of a receiving threat out of the backfield. His hands are better than a lot of wide receiver’s and his patience and vision between the tackles are rare to see from a collegiate running back. To me, versatility is overrated if a player can do a lot of things but only does them at an average level. Can do a lot of things at a high level and plays with a refined, savvy style. There’s no doubt he’s a very complete prospect. The media has overrated this player and he’s been compared to former USC Trojan and first round pick of the New Orleans Saints Reggie Bush for his versatile and explosive style. The issue is he’s not near the loose, generational type athlete Bush was. At the NFL level, having no weaknesses only gets you so far if you’re not a dominant athlete plain and simple. While McCaffrey doesn’t possess any glaring have holes in his game, he lacks top notch explosion and athleticism to truly create mismatches with any defender. In today’s NFL even linebackers are fast enough and athletic enough to matchup with a lot running backs. He’ll have to be schemed mismatches which in the end isn’t what you want to have to do with a first round pick. He also doesn’t have the size or physicality to be a volume carry type and will easily be shut down if he’s asked to attempt to wear down and punish a defense all game. A team with an established running back and creative coaching staff will be able to maximize his style and use him in ways that force defensive coordinators to adjust their gameplans. He’s a solid player and complete prospect but the fact that he needs help in order to produce at a high level doesn’t allow me to believe a team should make him their first pick in the draft— may translate more to a Danny Woodhead type of player.
Christian McCaffrey || Unstoppable || 2015-2016 Highlights HD
McCaffrey went to Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and was coached by Rod Sherman. He played running back, wide receiver, defensive back and punter. His team won four state titles and he also ran track where he was State champion in the 4A 4×100 relay and also State record holder in the 4A 4×200 relay. His father Ed McCaffrey is a former NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver and three time Super Bowl champion. He played for the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. He was a third round pick out of Stanford in the 1991 NFL Draft.