Former Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey has been a hot topic since the 2015 college football season, when he became the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Shortly before the NFL scouting combine, McCaffrey made it clear that he wanted to impress coaches at a multitude of positions.
“(I want) to show coaches I can play running back, I can play receiver. I can do all the return game stuff, that’s important to me,” he said at the scouting combine last month. McCaffrey took full advantage of the event to showcase his talent at the returner, receiver and running back roles.
To see where we have Christian McCaffrey projected in our 2017 NFL mock draft, go here.
Just a day after making that comment, he tied the record for second highest vertical leap at 37.5 inches. He also tied the record for fourth in the 40-yard dash, finishing at 4.48 seconds.
Since the combine there’s been a lot of question as to exactly what role former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey’s son will play on the professional level.
On Friday’s NFL Network media conference, I asked draft analyst Mike Mayock if McCaffrey’s ability to play multiple positions could find him playing something besides running back in the NFL.
According to Mayock, McCaffrey’s potential as a running back, receiver and return specialist make him even more appealing as an early first round prospect in the 2017 NFL draft.
“I think all it does is add to his versatility. I think it’s great that people make those comments because I’ll tell you at the combine what was interesting, when the running backs got done, their work, their position work, they sent everybody to the showers except three or four guys that they asked to run some slot routes,” Mayock said.
“And he ran the slot routes maybe better than any slot wide receiver had run them at the combine this year. It blew people away. Then they sent the other guys in, and he stood out and returned punts. He looked like a natural punt returner.”
While Mayock acknowledges that Christian McCaffrey is multi-talented at a very high level, he still sees him sticking to the running back position with whichever team ends up drafting him this week.
“So his label is running back, but the fact that he could line up in the slot or out wide or run routes from the running back position, all that does is help him,” he said.
“I don’t think he’s going to be a slot in the NFL. I believe he’s got the talent to be a top 10 or top 15 pick in the NFL Draft. I’m going to label him a running back, and I think he can get 12 to 15 touches a game in the run game. I think he can catch the ball four or five, six times a game, and if you want, he can return punts.”
“I think what people forget is in his last two years at Stanford, he averaged 30 touches a game. That’s a heavy load. He’s 202 pounds and he only missed one game. So from my perspective, all that stuff about him as a slot receiver, all that does is enhance him.”
Look for McCaffrey go to the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles or Indianapolis Colts come Thursday.