In exactly five weeks from today, the entire state of Colorado will be begging to hear the following 18 words:
With the 20th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford.
If those words are, indeed, uttered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it would be one of the best storylines of the entire draft. McCaffrey is the son of former Broncos star receiver (and current radio announcer) “Easy Ed” McCaffrey. Christian McCaffrey, 20, grew up around the franchise and considers John Elway – his father’s quarterback and now the Broncos’ general manager – an uncle-like figure. McCaffrey was a superstar high school player in the area. For sure, it would be a romantic story to see McCaffrey holding up a blue and orange jersey on draft night after the mandatory man hug with Goodell.
Initially, I thought this potential pairing was more of a pipe dream because it would be such a good story. But it is clear the Denver Broncos are considering making McCaffrey a member of their organization next month. The Denver Post reported this week the Broncos are spending a lot of time on four prospects when it comes to the No. 20 overall pick in the April 27-29 draft: Garrett Bolles, offensive tackle out of Utah; Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle out of Wisconsin; Ryan Switzer, wide receiver out of North Carolina and McCaffrey.
McCaffrey is certainly the pick that delivers the most flash. He is very likely the best player of the group and he is the player who would offer the most impact.
Added to the news that McCaffrey is at the top of the Broncos wish list is a highly-interesting quote from new Denver coach Vance Joseph. He raved to the Broncos’ team website about McCaffrey: “He’s a special player. He gives you a first-, second-, third-down player. He’s also a returner. It’s a need for us. He would definitely be in the conversation.”
That’s a pretty thought-out description. It is clear Joseph is enamored by McCaffrey. Yes, teams say wonderful things about many prospects this time of year. But there were some seriously honest overtones in Joseph’s comments about McCaffrey. It is clear the Broncos thought McCaffrey would check any boxes for them.
The problem is, I’m just not sure the Broncos will have the chance to draft McCaffrey. Many people around the NFL think he will be off the board by the time Denver picks at No. 20. Also, if he is available at No. 20, should Denver bypass their more pressing need at left tackle in favor of McCaffrey? Yes, the Broncos have helped their offensive line in free agency in the form of guard Ronald Leary and right tackle Menelik Watson. But there is a hole at the most important position on the line. Bolles and Ramczyk and Alabama’s Cam Robinson would fill the big hole.
The Broncs can suit up without McCaffrey in 2017 (they can grab a running back later in a strong class at the position), but can they play without a suitable left tackle? It was a weak year for left tackles in free agency and it’s considered a weak tackle class in the draft. If the Broncos don’t grab a tackle early, their offensive line will suffer. Thus, McCaffrey may just be too much of a luxury item for Denver to pull the trigger on.
Still, we’re talking about Elway here. He swings for the fences. If McCaffrey is available when the Broncos pick, and if Elway thinks McCaffrey is the best player remaining on the board, this pipe dream could actually happen. So, buckle in, Colorado. Christian McCaffrey really may become a member of the Denver Broncos.