Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey has been linked to the New England Patriots during draft season because of his versatility on offense and his incredible three cone time. Many believe that the Patriots are the perfect team to capitalize on his ability and find a way to maximize his potential in the NFL.
The only problem is that McCaffrey probably won’t be available when the Patriots draft- and McCaffrey has been rejecting private workout requests, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, because he’s “received a draft guarantee from a team presently selecting in the teens,” per NFL Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline.
So not only will McCaffrey not go to New England for a private workout, he probably won’t go to the Patriots in the draft, either.
The Patriots don’t have a pick in the first two rounds so obviously a connection with McCaffrey was always going to be a long shot, but even if the Patriots obtained, say, the 32nd overall pick from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for CB Malcolm Butler, McCaffrey should be long gone.
This report leads to an obvious follow-up: which team gave McCaffrey the guarantee?
Florio notes that the “realistic floor” for McCaffrey is the 15th overall pick, owned by the Indianapolis Colts, and that aligns with Pauline’s report of a team in the teens. We can also look at each team with a selection in the teens to see if they make any sense as a landing spot.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David Johnson is one of the best backs in the league and McCaffrey would make no sense here.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles running back depth chart is terrible so McCaffrey would be an excellent fit, but the Eagles have other needs. NBC Sports’ Josh Norris “would be surprised” if the Eagles made the guarantee to McCaffrey.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore turns 34 in May and McCaffrey would be an excellent successor. The old Colts under Ryan Grigson would totally make a guarantee to a running back in the first round, but new general manager Chris Ballard wants to remake the defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Dixon is expected to take on a larger role, while Danny Woodhead just signed a three-year deal. The Ravens don’t seem like a team that would invest a first round pick in a running back.
17. Washington: Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are uninspiring running backs. A lot of resources have gone into the defense in recent years, but there is still a hole on the defensive interior.
18. Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry don’t need another player in the backfield.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin has been a big-money let down, but Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims crowd the backfield.
If I had to pick the top three landing spots for McCaffrey, it would be the Eagles, Colts, and Washington, although the Colts and Washington could (should?) use their first round picks on the defensive side of the ball.
The only way for the Patriots to get McCaffrey would be if they obtained the 12th overall pick from the Cleveland Browns in a trade for QB Jimmy Garoppolo- and then hope that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars prefer Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook in the top ten.