Panthers NFL Draft Scout: Christian McCaffrey, RB

Nov 19, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) points to the sky in celebration after a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Stanford defeated California 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 19, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) points to the sky in celebration after a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Stanford defeated California 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are likely to target a variety of positions in the NFL Draft, including running back…

As the Carolina Panthers prepare for the fast approaching NFL Draft different prospects will be analyzed in an effort to pinpoint who the team should select when on the clock. Beginning with Stanford running back, Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey exploded onto the scene with over 2,000 rushing yards during his sophomore season in 2015. In 2016, he recorded five more total touchdowns but ran for just 1,600 yards. He had 590 rushing attempts in the past two seasons, but if he can be that kind of workhorse in the NFL remains to be seen.

Following is our scouting report on the junior running back.

November 26, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs past Rice Owls linebacker DJ Green (49) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

November 26, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs past Rice Owls linebacker DJ Green (49) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Measurables:

Height: 6-foot even

Weight: 197 pounds

Age: 20

College: Stanford

Strengths:

McCaffrey can avoid the wear and tear of big NFL hits by being a technically sound player. He displays tremendous footwork and with that can squeeze through small holes, making defenders miss in open space.

What breaks him into open space is his tremendous vision and patience in the backfield. He can anticipate holes that are going to form and has the patience to stay behind his line, take small steps, and building up momentum to run through them with a strong burst when given the opportunity.

On top of being a threat behind the line of scrimmage, McCaffrey is a polished route runner and is able to beat linebackers in coverage, turning short receptions into big gains. He has also been a dynamic return man and has added two return touchdowns during his Stanford career.

Weaknesses:

The biggest question with McCaffrey is his size. He is not a power back by any stretch of the imagination and may not physically be able to sustain the workload of an entire NFL season. He is willing, but limited as a pass blocker because of this and will most certainly have to add upper body strength when he gets into an NFL training regimen.

November 5, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs with the football against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

November 5, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs with the football against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Comparison:

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

This comparison will get lost on some being that Bell dropped weight every season since entering the NFL and McCaffrey needs to add weight. It also does not mean that McCaffrey is set to be the best running back in the NFL.

However, stylistically the two are very similar. This season, the patience and vision of Bell has been a discussion across the league. The comparison to Bell playing “Frogger” when crossing the offensive line is a good one. It is his three small steps while his blocks are being set followed by a quick burst through the holes he saw coming that make him such an impressive runner.

The same can be said for McCaffrey. Bell is also hands down the best receiving back in the NFL and by comparison, it would be no surprise to see McCaffrey become the next star receiving back as he progresses in the NFL.

Oct 29, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs the ball as Arizona Wildcats safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (6) defends during the second quarter at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs the ball as Arizona Wildcats safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (6) defends during the second quarter at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

A Fit for Carolina:

There has been speculation McCaffrey may be on the Panthers radar in round one at pick eight. However, for the time being that does just feel like speculation. While he is compared here to the top running back in the NFL, with his size and deficiencies it is tough to see him drafted as the top running back in this class. However, he does have the potential to be a first round pick.

If the Panthers were to look at McCaffrey it would likely be with an unprecedented trade down or a more realistic, hope that he is available in round two.

As a complimentary back to Jonathan Stewart with the potential to add muscle and eventually take over the run game, he certainly is an intriguing option for the Panthers.

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