Sep 30, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) rushes the ball against the Washington Huskies during the second half at Husky Stadium. Washington won 44-6. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2017 NFL Draft almost here, take a look at seven teams that should consider Christian McCaffrey in the first round.
Christian McCaffrey is considered one of the most talented players from the 2017 NFL Draft class, and rightfully so when looking at his ability as a duel threat. Any team lucky enough to land McCaffrey in a few weeks when the draft officially gets underway will have plenty of reasons to be excited for being able to use him at multiple positions during his rookie season.
After seeing the numbers he put together over his final two years at Stanford (4,577 yards from the line of scrimmage with 29 touchdowns just on offense), it’s easy to see why there are so many teams showing interest in McCaffrey. With that being said, the only factor left to be determined is which round the former Cardinal running back will find himself selected in.
As impressive as McCaffrey’s numbers were in college, there’s still a level of concern over whether he can be that productive at the NFL level since it’s a completely different ball game. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a hand full of teams willing to risk their first-round pick on a player like McCaffrey once the draft officially gets underway on April 27.
Of course, the only question that remains is which team, if any, is going to strongly consider using a first-round selection on McCaffrey to provide a duel threat on their offense. Starting off with the Oakland Raiders, here are seven teams that should strongly consider selecting McCaffrey in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
December 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) listens to head coach Jack Del Rio against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
7. Oakland Raiders, No. 24
With Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings) officially out of the picture, the Oakland Raiders find themselves in desperate need of help at running back for the 2017 season to help take some of the pressure off Derek Carr on offense. Even if the Raiders do manage to strike a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to acquire Marshawn Lynch in a trade, the team realizes they’re going to have to address their need at running back at some point, whether it’s through this year’s draft or down the road.
The addition of a running back like Lynch would obviously be a short-term solution for the Raiders, with the intention of making them stronger Super Bowl contenders in the AFC. But that shouldn’t stop Oakland from considering the selection of Christian McCaffrey at No. 24 in the first round since it would only provide Carr and the offense another dangerous weapon to work with.
Plus, the one factor that would work in the favor of McCaffrey in this scenario is the starting job would most likely belong to him down the road since Lynch only seems to have one or two effective years at best left in him. Not to mention, McCaffrey could even find his way into the starting role right away if the Lynch deal never even happens, which means the Raiders would head into the draft with even more intention of landing a star running back.
Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) before the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
6. New York Giants, No. 23
Give the New York Giants credit for making the wise decision to part ways with Rashad Jennings this offseason, as the team feels confident enough in Paul Perkins carrying the load in the backfield moving forward. But just because the team feels confident enough in Perkins after the running back looked impressive towards the end of the 2016 season doesn’t mean the Giants shouldn’t consider adding another playmaker in the upcoming draft.
Over the years, New York has found most of their success through the offense led by Eli Manning, but it was the defense that emerged out of nowhere to become one of the best in the league, and played a key role in earning a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Assuming all goes well with the defense once again along with Manning taking advantage of another dangerous weapon in the passing game following the signing of Brandon Marshall, the Giants could be difficult to defeat.
Throw a skilled player like Christian McCaffrey into the mix that could be used at multiple positions, New York could become even more dangerous of a team to compete against. The Dallas Cowboys may be defending champions in the NFC East, but the Giants are expected to give them a run for their money in 2017.
Oct 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) is pulled down by Atlanta Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (53) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Falcons won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
5. Denver Broncos, No. 20
With a healthier C.J. Anderson, there’s a good chance the running game of the Denver Broncos wouldn’t have ranked near the bottom of the league in 2016, but the team hopes their beloved running back will bounce back stronger during his offseason recovery. However, there’s no guarantee when it comes to what to expect from Anderson during the 2017 season after he was limited to just seven games all of last year, and don’t be surprised if the Broncos consider all options at No. 20 in the upcoming draft, especially when it comes to running back.
Over the last few years, Denver has established a reputation for having one of the top defenses in the league, and the argument can be made that with a better offense, they would have easily made the playoffs last January. The Broncos were considered one of the favorites to make another Super Bowl run at the beginning of the season, and when seeing the level of talent in the passing game with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it was frustrating to watch the offense fail to live up to expectations.
While Trevor Siemian should elevate his game to the next level now that he has a year of experience under his belt, the quarterback is still going to need better help than he received last season in the backfield. Using a player with the skill set of Christian McCaffrey at running back and in the passing game would make life so much easier for a quarterback like Siemian, and not even considering the possibility would be foolish on Denver’s end.
Dec 11, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) runs with he ball against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 19
At the moment, all signs point to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers working things out with Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of the 2017 season due to a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Even if Martin is scheduled to return to the team soon, theres no guarantee things will still workout between the two parties in the future, and the Buccaneers realize they need to do what’s best for the team on offense.
The last thing Tampa Bay can afford to see happen is Marvin receive another chance to prove himself with the organization, only to put the team in a tough spot if he fails to deliver on his end. After falling just shy of earning a playoff spot in the NFC, the Buccaneers are considered to be one of the top teams ready to make the jump in 2017 by being one of the top contenders in the league, especially after the addition of DeSean Jackson through free agency.
Tampa Bay is clearly set on offense when it comes to the passing game thanks to Jameis Winston being fortunate enough to have weapons like Jackson and Mike Evans to work with. Obviously, the Buccaneers hope for nothing but the best when it comes to Martin turning things around, and making an impact for the 2017 season. But just to be safe, don’t be surprised to see Tampa Bay consider Christian McCaffrey late in the first round if he’s still available when they’re on the clock.
Oct 2, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh looks on in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
3. Baltimore Ravens, No. 16
If the Baltimore Ravens are going to have any chance at competing in the AFC once again, the team is going to need to provide Joe Flacco with some extra weapons to work with on offense. From a defensive perspective, early signs point to the Ravens having one of the best in the league once again, as the unit was the main reason this team was even in contention for the AFC North title last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The defense can only do much without the necessary help on offense, and while Flacco’s squad put together some decent performances in 2016, it’s clear this team desperately needs help when it comes to the offense. If Baltimore believes having running backs like Lorenzo Taliaferro and Terrance West are going to help this offense be contenders in 2017, Flacco and company are going to be in for a long season.
Enter Christian McCaffrey, as the former Stanford standout seems like the perfect fit for a team looking for an explosive playmaker like the Ravens are. Between his ability to lineup in the backfield to providing Flacco with reliable weapon to simply dump the football off to when facing pressure, why wouldn’t Baltimore be interested in McCaffrey in the first round if it’s an option?
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
2. Indianapolis Colts, No. 15
Sooner or later, the Indianapolis Colts will need to figure out a replacement for Frank Gore since the running back isn’t getting any younger heading into the 2017 season. Even at 33, it’s amazing to see that Gore hasn’t missed a single game over the last five seasons, and what’s even more impressive is he’s coming off a 2016 campaign in which he managed to rush for 1,025 yards with four touchdowns.
But as mentioned before, one can only assume that Gore only has a few effective years left in him, and if the Colts are looking for a running back from this year’s draft class to eventually take over the role, it could be Christian McCaffrey. With one former Standford star already running the offense running the offense in Andrew Luck, just imagine the level of excitement there would be from the quarterback with the addition of McCaffrey.
Just like McCaffrey, Luck knows a thing or two about being heavily relied on when it comes to offensive production, and the potential surrounding these two working together could be just what Indianapolis needs to compete for the AFC South title once again. Watching the Colts miss out on the playoffs each of the last two seasons when looking at all of the money invested in Luck has been one of the most frustrating things to witness, and it’s clear they need to add another offensive weapon in the upcoming draft to avoid a third straight 8-8 finish.
Jan 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts to his touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
1. Philadelphia Eagles, No. 14
Around this time last year, the Philadelphia Eagles made a bold decision to give away their first-round pick in this year’s draft to the Cleveland Browns in order to land Carson Wentz, who showed a ton of potential as a rookie, despite a lack of weapons on offense. Flash forward to this offseason where the Eagles were considered one of the early winners of free agency thanks to key additions on offense like Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to make life much easier for their beloved quarterback heading into his second season.
As exciting as these moves were for Philadelphia, the team could still use some extra help in the backfield to help take some of the pressure off Wentz when lining up under center. Thanks to a surprise move before the start of the last season with the Minnesota Vikings in which they were able to acquire a first-round pick back in the Sam Bradford trade, the Eagles find themselves with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The team may have other positions in need of improvement such as cornerback, but just imagine the potential surrounding this offense with a talented running back like Christian McCaffrey. Imagine a more dangerous version of Darren Sproles suiting up for Philadelphia every Sunday, and that’s what Doug Pederson would get to work on a weekly basis if McCaffrey ended up in the City of Brotherly Love.