“I play with a chip on my shoulder always,” McCaffrey said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t give me credit for my skills and talents. That’s just the way it is. But I also don’t really care too much.”
McCaffrey has heard the questions: Will he hold up to punishment? Can he be an every-down running back? Can he learn to pass protect?
“I’m not sure I would even label him as a back,” Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He does so many different things. He lines up in the backfield. He’s an offensive weapon.”
McCaffrey finished with 6,987 all-purpose yards in his three-year college career – 3,922 rushing, 1,206 receiving, 380 in punt returns and 1,479 in kickoff returns. He’s the only player in school history with 2,000-plus all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons.
So how does an NFL team use McCaffrey?
“I definitely believe I can be an every-down back and a specialist, do them both at the same time,” he said.
At the same time, McCaffrey said he can do more than just run the football.
“Something I really pride myself on is not just being a running back that can catch the ball, but if I move out to the slot, I become a receiver,” he said. “If I move out to X or Z, I become a receiver and not just a running back. I really try to pride myself on route running, catching and being able to be a mismatch anywhere on the field.
“I’ll do anything a team needs me to do.”
McCaffrey’s father, Ed, played at Stanford and then for 13 NFL seasons, catching 565 passes for 7,422 yards and 55 touchdowns for the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. His mother, Lisa, played soccer at Stanford. His maternal grandfather, David Sime, was a silver medalist in the 100-meter dash at the 1960 Olympics.
McCaffrey said his family ranks among the most athletic in history.
“I’ll put us with anybody,” he said.
And McCaffrey will put himself with any running back in this class.
The running back class is deep. Three backs likely go in the top 20, and a few will go in each subsequent round. Although it’s not historic, it’s certainly above average.
The Dallas Cowboys used the fourth overall pick in 2016 on Ezekiel Elliott, and all he did was lead the league in rushing with 1,631 yards and earn six MVP votes. With the free agent departure of Lance Dunbar and the possible departure of Alfred Morris via a trade, Elliott could become an even bigger part of the offense this season. He played 716 plays, or 67.5 percent of the offensive snaps last season, and touched the ball 354 times, or 35 percent of the plays, and gained 1,994 yards, or 33.1 percent of the team’s yards from scrimmage. The Cowboys re-signed Darren McFadden as the primary backup to Elliott. McFadden, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2015, missed most of last season with a fractured right elbow. In three games, he had 24 carries for 87 yards and caught three passes for 17 yards. The Cowboys could draft a running back late.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, 6-0, 240, 4.51
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, 5-11, 202, 4.48
Dalvin Cook, Florida State, 5-10, 210, 4.49
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State, 5-11, 196, 4.31
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee, 5-10, 214, 4.53
De’Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina, 5-7, 208, 4.48. He set an NCAA Division I record with a touchdown in 35 consecutive games.
Top Texas ties
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, 5-11, 233, 4.59. The Hendrickson product, projected as a third-round pick, had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons finishing with 4,122 career yards and 49 rushing TDs.
D’Onta Foreman, Texas, 6-0, 233, 4.45. The Texas City product, projected as a fourth- or fifth-round choice, led the FBS with 184.4 rushing yards per game.
Aaron Jones, UTEP, 5-9, 208, 4.49. The El Paso Burges graduate, projected as a sixth-round pick, set a school-record with 1,773 rushing yards and 17 TDs.
Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler.
82nd NFL Draft
Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Selections: Round 1, 7 p.m. April 27; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. April 28; and Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. April 29
TV: ESPN/ESPN2 and NFL Network
1. Cleveland Browns
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Chicago Bears
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Cincinnati Bengals
10. Buffalo Bills
11. New Orleans Saints
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
13. Arizona Cardinals
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Washington Redskins
18. Tennessee Titans
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Denver Broncos
21. Detroit Lions
22. Miami Dolphins
23 New York Giants
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Houston Texans
26. Seattle Seahawks
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. Dallas Cowboys
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)