The Eagles bolstered their receiving corps in free agency and many are now arguing that they should select a running back with the 14th overall pick in April's NFL draft to complete the offense around Carson Wentz.
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is the fan favorite, but Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is on the rise in NFL mock drafts. Last week, Todd McShay of ESPN had the Eagles selecting McCaffrey in the first round in his mock draft.
Stanford head coach David Shaw joined 97.5 The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli on Monday to discuss the possibility of McCaffrey joining the Eagles. Shaw thinks McCaffrey would not only fit the Eagles' offense but also the city of Philadelphia.
"I think he would he would be a great fit, and living in Philly for that year, I know how Philly appreciates guys who have got that work," said Shaw, an offensive quality control coach with the Eagles in 1997. "And this is a young man that comes in who does all the accolades, gets all the pats in the back -- he's a tough kid that just wants to work hard and produce. So, if he does come to Philly, I think the people in Philly would love him."
While Shaw admitted that McCaffrey's lack of size is perceived as a negative, he made sure to point out that Stanford runs a pro-style offense and McCaffrey was able to run between the tackles. And aside from running between the tackles, Shaw said McCaffrey can run on the edge and catch balls out of the backfield just like a former Eagles great.
"So a lot of people in Philly will look at him, in my opinion, and say, 'OK, this guy has got some very similar traits to a Shady McCoy,'" Shaw said. "He can run it inside, he can run it outside and he can be a return man and he's an overall great kid and a hard worker, so he's one of those guys that can answer a lot of questions and not just fill one role on the team and be a guy that can help you win games."
McCaffrey put up record-breaking numbers during his three-year career at Stanford.
As a sophomore, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864.
Last year, McCaffrey rushed for 1,603 yards, 13 touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He also had 37 receptions for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
He's also a dynamic kick and punt returner.
McCaffrey could become the ultimate triple threat for a team with the right creative offensive mind in charge.
"When you have a guy like this, you find ways for him to influence the game," Shaw said. "He can run between the tackles, he can run on the edge, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and he can play wide receiver.
"However he touches the ball doesn't really matter. Just the fact that he gets the opportunity, and more often than not, he's going to make the first guy miss."
With that, let's take a closer look at McCaffrey:
McCaffrey can be used numerous ways. He can line up in the backfield as a running back, as a wide receiver in the slot and return punts and kicks. He could be a mismatch nightmare against linebackers with his shifty elusiveness. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, tied for fifth best among running backs.
Many critics argue that McCaffrey can't run through the tackles, but he did a ton at Stanford. Shaw said that he used him through the tackles about 15 times per game. McCaffrey's experience in Stanford's offense should benefit him in the NFL because he's played in nearly every formation.
McCaffrey also has great vision. He has the cutback ability to make nothing into something. Whenever the ball is in his hands, there's a chance he could take off to the end zone.
McCaffrey gets criticized the most for his size, at 5-foot-11, 202 pounds. Because of his stature, many wonder if McCaffrey can be used as an every-down running back in the NFL.
Another concern is McCaffrey's durability. Over the past two years at Stanford, he logged a boatload of carries, 590 to be exact. That's a lot of wear and tear.
McCaffrey's strength has also been questioned. He put up only 10 reps at the combine bench press, which was second worst among running backs. He might not have the strength to muscle his way for short-yardage runs in the NFL.
Fit with the Eagles
McCaffrey could excel in the Eagles' offense and add another dynamic weapon for Wentz. His versatility would give head coach Doug Pederson the flexibility of spreading him out all over the field.
Those bubble screens a sluggish Jordan Matthews ran last season? McCaffrey could run those out of the slot.
While critics might be skeptical of McCaffrey as an every-down back in the NFL, the Eagles might not use him in that role. They could split the carries between him and Wendell Smallwood and set McCaffrey up for passing plays throughout the game. When Pederson was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, the Chiefs used multiple running backs. He might be looking to do the same here in Philadelphia.
McCaffrey could also perform on special teams for the Eagles. With Darren Sproles possibly retiring after this upcoming season, McCaffrey could help fill that role.