Christian McCaffrey is set to visit the Washington Redskins soon as a part of a pre-draft visit, and he’d be a terrific pick at No. 17 if available.
When a player visits a team just before the NFL draft, fans and media alike start connecting the dots that this player is certain to be targeted by the team he is visiting. That’s why Christian McCaffrey’s visit to the Washington Redskins is drawing plenty of attention around the nation’s capital.
In this case, you should probably not go overboard. All 32 teams are allowed to have up to 30 college players visit team headquarters before the draft. McCaffrey’s visit to Washington doesn’t mean a lot. Sure, the team is interested in McCaffrey, but the Redskins will be bringing others in, too. And there’s also the question of if McCaffrey will even be on the board at No. 17.
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But if McCaffrey is available when the No. 17 pick comes around, should the Redskins select him?
That’s a complex question because of Washington’s abundance of needs on the defensive side of the ball. However, signing Zach Brown to play inside linebacker, D.J. Swearinger at safety and Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain on the defensive line certainly filled some holes. But, even with McGee and McClain now on the defensive line, the Redskins still need plenty of help along the front line.
While this class possesses quite a bit of defensive line talent, there isn’t a clear-cut choice at No. 17. Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas and Jonathan Allen should all be long gone. Michigan’s Taco Charlton is a possibility.
Do the Redskins want to roll the dice with the talented, but inconsistent Malik McDowell in Round 1? Based on talent alone, McDowell should easily go in the first round, but questions concerning his work ethic, consistency and production are causes for concern. Washington could easily choose to address the defensive line in Rounds 2-4 due to the depth in this class.
That leads us back to McCaffrey. If the Redskins want to go the best player available and McCaffrey is still on the board, he’d be too good to pass up. Washington doesn’t have an answer at running back. Undrafted gem Rob Kelley was a nice find last year. However, after bursting onto the scene with strong performances in his first three starts, he struggled down the stretch. Chris Thompson is a stud, but he is a role player whose size limits him to third down duties.
McCaffrey, though, could completely change this offense. With the losses of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, the Redskins offense will clearly be different this year. Terrelle Pryor signed on and should help replace some of that departed production. Last year’s first-round pick, Josh Doctson, should help the cause as well. But, McCaffrey can give this offense something it’s lacked for years; a potential game-breaking back.
And while McCaffrey can make the big play, it’s his versatility that can change how opposing teams defend head coach Jay Gruden’s offense. McCaffrey is capable of carrying the ball 20 times per game in my opinion, and he’s also an outstanding receiver. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah believes McCaffrey could be a terrific wide receiver if he chose that route, as noted by Chris Russell of D.C Hot Read.
The Redskins can keep opposing teams in their base defense with two receivers, two backs and a tight end on the field and then split McCaffrey out wide or put him in the slot. That would leave the defense scrambling to put a safety or even better, a linebacker, on McCaffrey. The possibilities are endless.
The key for any team drafting McCaffrey is knowing how to employ him. Don’t draft McCaffrey to run him between the tackles 25-30 times per game. He needs 20 touches per game and there are creative ways to see he gets those opportunities. Gruden is a smart offensive coach and a player like McCaffrey could take this offense to another level.
Kelley is still useful running between the tackles and Thompson will continue to have a major role. McCaffrey can do a little bit of everything. The Redskins needs a game-changer at running back and, if McCaffrey falls to them with the 17th overall pick, he should be the guy.