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Sam’s Film Room: Christian McCaffrey’s versatility could get him drafted in the first round

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

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Christian McCaffrey, running back out of Stanford University, enters the 2017 NFL Draft as a potential first round pick. At Stanford, he showed elite elusiveness, vision, and the ability to create yards with underrated burst up the field. He ran a variety of offensive principles including both power and zone concepts. He ran Power-O from shotgun, G-lead Sweep, Power Toss, Counter Of, and Outside Zone out of both two-back and one-back formations.

Overall, he is an excellent all-round back with very little weaknesses and a lot of scheme versatility. He is a very patient runner with burst who does a great job of setting up blocks down the field. He keeps his legs driving forward through contact and has great special awareness and vision for creases. From an athletic standpoint, the biggest knock on McCaffrey is his size. Standing at 6’0” and 200 pounds with good, but not exceptional speed, a lot of teams will find it difficult to spend a high draft pick on him. This is where his versatility and pure elusiveness will win the hearts of NFL executives. He was the all-purpose leading back in 2015 and even broke Barry Sanders’ record for most all-purpose yards in a season averaging over 200 yards per game.

From a pro comparison standpoint, I see him as a mixture between DeVonta Freeman and Tiki Barber. He may not match their speed or size, but his versatility and ability to seamlessly shift between multiple gears will allow him to be successful in the NFL.

In April, every team will have substantially different grades on him. The absolute earliest I can see him going is late first, but I could just as easily see him falling to the third round depending on who is selected before him. Personally, I gave him an early second round grade and that’s based on his versatility and his vision. He’s not only a good running back, but he is a receiver out of the backfield and a kick returner as well.

While the Seattle Seahawks don’t need a running back, he could appeal to a number of teams picking at the end of the first round such as the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Other teams that could be interested in play-making abilities and versatility are the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and the New York Giants.