The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Philadelphia and the Redskins have the No. 17 selection in the first round. This is the first in a series of stories analyzing 15 players who could be good fits for Washington at that position.
One of the most dynamic players in college football the past two seasons, McCaffrey led Stanford in rushing and receiving yards in 2016 and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2015. A mismatch player who provides versatility in an NFL that values it more and more, coaches envision a player who can keep a defense guessing. The son of a former NFL wide receiver, McCaffrey has been around pro coaches and executives his whole life — Jack Del Rio, whose son was his quarterback in high school in Colorado and John Lynch, now the San Francisco 49ers general manager, among others.
How he fits: The Redskins could use an upgrade at running back. Rob Kelley showed promise as an undrafted college free agent as a tough runner between the tackles. Matt Jones, a third-round pick in 2015, was iced the final 10 weeks of the season for fumbling and inconsistency. Chris Thompson is a solid third-down back with some overlap of skillset with McCaffrey.
Questions: Is McCaffrey a three-down back or simply a jack-of-all-trades who will give you snaps lined up as a wide receiver and at running back? How a coaching staff uses him will be critical. Some teams will wonder about his dedication after he skipped Stanford’s Bowl game to get ready for the draft. Is there too much crossover with what Redskins running back Chris Thompson already provides?
McCaffrey’s take: “I don’t think there’s anyone else that can do all the things I can as far as running between the tackles, outside, pass protect, play X, Z, slot and do a lot of things in the return game as well. I think that’s what sets me apart.”
What they’re saying
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “From my perspective, McCaffrey’s a match-up guy. He’s a chess piece. He averaged between 6 and 6.5 yards a carry. He’s an outstanding pass catcher. He’s bigger and tougher than people think he is. And he’s also a return guy. So you’ve got to have a plan if you draft him with the first-round pick as to how you want to utilize him, especially based on what you have on your roster already.”
Todd McShay, ESPN: “Christian McCaffrey will continue to rise as we get closer to the draft just because he put up explosive numbers at the Combine that you were hoping to see based off of the tape — and I thought they were even better than what the projections were. And his character’s off the charts, his versatility and just his work ethic.”
Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter