NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock spoke with MMQB’s Peter King to give his thoughts on the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft and you can read all of his notes here. One note in particular related to the New England Patriots and a player that could interest the team at the end of the first round.
King asked Mayock, “Wouldn’t New England- where every game plan is a snowflake, so different and so diverse- be a perfect landing spot for [Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey]?,” to which Mayock replied:
“I would be surprised if he lasted that long, but I am in 100 percent agreement with you. The NFL’s become a matchup league, and Christian McCaffrey is a matchup player. You can line him up anywhere: the I, slot, all the way out wide, sidecar to QB, he becomes a chess piece for a smart offensive mind. He will run 4.5 or better, and I’ve never seen him get caught from behind. He’s going to be a very good NFL player.”
McCaffrey finished 2nd in the Heisman voting in 2015 after gaining 2,664 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns, and followed that up with 1,913 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns in 2016. McCaffrey missed one game with an undisclosed injury and skipped the bowl game in the season finale to avoid further injury.
The 6’0, 200 pound running back is an incredibly efficient runner that can catch the ball out of the backfield. He has been Stanford’s entire offense over the past two seasons- he is responsible for 43.7% and 45.6% of Stanford’s yardage in 2015 and 2016, respectively- and defenses keyed in against the run more in 2016 after three-year starting QB Kevin Hogan left for the NFL.
McCaffrey has drawn a wide range of projections as either a rotational player or a star rusher, and his comparisons span from Chargers RB Danny Woodhead, Patriots RB Dion Lewis, Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, and Rams RB Marshall Faulk. He can catch out of the backfield, line up wide as a receiver, or run in between the tackles.
Mayock is a reputable draft analyst that the Patriots front office respects. Mayock is a former NFL safety that spent two seasons with the New York Giants when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick served as linebackers coach.
It’s hard to imagine the Patriots investing a first round pick into a running back when they already have Dion Lewis on the roster and James White has emerged as a great option in the backfield. McCaffrey seems like a luxury when the Patriots have needs in the defensive front seven.