The man who broke Barry Sanders all purpose yardage record is headed to the NFL among a rich crop of running backs. So how does he separate from the rest and where does he fit best for his skill set?
But first let us remember what he has done for the Cardinal. While the 3,864 all purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns will be the most remembered season of his college career, particularly the torching of Iowa in the Rose Bowl, he has always been a versatile stud. His freshman year he had 798 all purpose yards on only 73 total touches. Even this season, despite injuries he still posted 2,327 all purpose yards with a career high 16 total touchdowns. But most importantly, he gave an offense that was fairly predictable for many years a flair of diversity and versatility that not only will be missed, but also leaves a blue print for players following him.
As far as measurable talent before the combine, McCaffrey is listed at 6’0” and 200 pounds. He reportedly ran a 4.5 40 yard dash time headed into the season, all of which points to plenty of raw talent and solid building blocks for a versatile franchise back.
Pro Comparison - Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Stealers
Could we be seeing the better version of Ty Montgomery with a higher ceiling? The versatility of a between the tackles running back with wide receiver speed and route running ability is a big plus for every offense. At his best, I truly believe that McCaffrey can fit into the Le’Veon Bell mold that has become so deadly for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The mold set in place by LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamaal Charles years before has been perfected by Bell, giving players like Dion Lewis and McCaffrey the clear path to succeed. Because of his immense upside, much like those mentioned players, he is one of the best picks in the draft.
Potential Landing Spots
With McCaffrey’s skill set, he can be a viable asset in almost any offense, but their are Some places that will be in the market for a back, and some that will be the best fit for the Stanford product.
The Packers need to move on from Eddie Lacy, the Jets have injury prone backs, the Redskins need consistency, the Lions need an every down back, the Eagles could probably use some fresh legs in their backfield, the Ravens could really use someone to pair with Kenneth Dixon, the Jaguars would love a solid ground attack and the Vikings should get over Adrian Peterson while he still has any value. While those team will be gunning for backs some they do not have a great offensive fit, while others will have trouble getting over the established but older backs.
The best fits for him would be either the New England Patriots or Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots have always been able to maximize the talent of players that can be plugged in anywhere and he would get the luxury of playing with Tom Brady under center. While the Falcons backfield would seem crowded with McCaffrey, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman the Falcons do need to pay one or both of the backs a contract relatively soon and McCaffrey could be a cheaper option to get more picks in a trade while only paying McCaffrey a rookie salary. In the Falcons offense he would have great quarterback and center, along with the offense that focuses on the running backs production.
As seen in the Sun Bowl, or even sooner against Notre Dame, Bryce Love has the talent to step up and fill the starting roll next season. While he is not going to post McCaffrey’s numbers, he is a fast back that can be dangerous out of the backfield.
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