Broncos fans are pining for Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey but Adam Uribes makes the case for Denver avoiding the electric running back.
After filling holes along both the offensive and defensive lines in the early days of free agency, the Denver Broncos now turn their eyes towards the NFL Draft. Sitting at pick20 in the first round and armed with several draft picks, the Broncos are poised to improve on an already talented roster.
One name that has popped up consistently in connection with Denver has been Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. Christian is the son of fan-favorite Ed McCaffrey. Combining his famous last name with his other football qualities has many of the Orange and Blue faithful hoping McCaffrey’s name is called by Denver early in the Draft.
McCaffrey’s sophomore season at Stanford goes down as one of the most remarkable in college football history. Setting an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards, McCaffrey made himself a favorite for the Heisman Trophy entering his junior year.
Elusive toting the rock and mixing in a natural smoothness in catching the ball and running routes, McCaffrey is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s Draft.
On the surface, McCaffrey’s selection seems to be a no-brainer. However, there are good reasons why Denver needs to pass on McCaffrey and look for another player who can do more to help this club get back to the playoffs this year. Here are three reasons the Broncos should avoid him.
Size and Skill-Set
McCaffrey’s size is a concern. Coming in at just under 6 feet tall and weighing 202 pounds at the Combine, McCaffrey doesn’t project as a bell-cow type back at the pro level. Keeping that in mind, while McCaffrey did post respectable numbers in his 40-yard dash time and vertical leap, he was only able to bench press 225 pounds 10 times.
For anyone who counters that point, saying that he won’t be used as traditional running back in the pros — and should be used more in line with how a James White is in New England, that’s a given. McCaffrey has shown great skill in catching the ball and his acceleration, quickness and overall vision has the potential of making him a commodity in the slot.
That being said, is it wise to draft a player who will only see the field 25 percent of the time during his rookie season? First-round picks need to be home runs, but McCaffrey’s overall worth simply doesn’t line up with a first-round grade especially when you consider White and even David Johnson were taken in the third round or later.
Yes, having a pass-catching running back can be a valuable asset but it’s far from a necessity, especially with Denver still being in need of improvements at offensive tackle and other spots.
McCaffrey can be a benefit to many teams. If he were hanging around in the third or fourth round, I would love to see what he could do in a Mike McCoyoffense. Anything higher than that, however, is a waste of first round pick.
Denver Already Has Pass-Catchers
It’s been awhile since it was showcased, but many forget how good C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker have been when asked to catch the ball out of the backfield. Used a little bit differently and not being split out as much as McCaffrey is, both Anderson and Booker have made big plays when being targeted in the passing game.
Anderson had a big catch-and-run off a screen pass in the opener against Carolina last year that proved to be a huge moment in the win. Although he is used more on first and second downs in this stage of his career, Anderson is a capable pass-blocker and started off his time in Denver as the third down back.
Booker had 31 catches as a rookie to go along with a nice touchdown reception in the season finale against the Raiders. It’s important to note that Booker was motioned out wide on that play as well.
McCaffrey’s biggest strength is what he can do when he’s thrown the ball but it isn’t so much better than the combination of Anderson and Booker that it warrants him being drafted early by the Broncos. They may not have the splash-play capability of the former Stanford runner, but Booker and Anderson are more than capable of giving the Denver offense a running back that can catch the ball effectively.
The Nostalgia Effect
Bronco fans loved Ed McCaffrey and for good reason. No. 87 was as tough as they came and you could always count on him taking a huge hit to collect a first down, followed by a twisting of his neck as he jogged lightly back to the huddle.
By proxy, Denver fans are going to love Christian given his father’s place in Broncos history. Good feelings and reunions aside, McCaffrey is a potential draftee that is rumored to be all over the board depending on what team you ask.
Some see him as a valuable multi-purpose player who can be used in mismatches all over the field. While others don’t see him as worthy of a first round selection.
Even last season, Denver fans clamored for another of McCaffrey’s kids to be on the roster in former Duke wideout, Max. It didn’t matter that eldest McCaffrey son was so lightly regarded as not to be even be drafted. By fan reasoning, since his last name is McCaffrey, it only makes sense he should be a Bronco.
As much as it would be nice to have a connection back to the first two Super Bowl team of 1997 and 1998, kicking the tires on a player that doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the club shouldn’t be acted on.
Denver is a better position that some teams around the league. Going into the draft looking to add depth after filling its biggest needs in free agency, Denver is in a better spot to stick to its draft board and take the best player available, regardless of position.
Let’s be clear, Christian McCaffrey has the ability to be a very good player for another team in the league. But considering what he brings to the table and what the Broncos already have in house, I don’t feel he is a great fit for Denver as its first round selection.