The700Level

The700Level

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 202 lbs.

40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds
Bench press: 10 reps
Vertical jump: 37.5 inches
Broad jump: 121.0 inches
3-cone drill: 6.57 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.22 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.03 seconds

2016: 253 ATT, 1,603 YDS, 6.3 AVG, 13 TD
2015: 237 ATT, 2,019 YDS, 6.9 AVG, 8 TD
2014: 42 ATT, 300 YDS, 7.1 AVG, 0 TD

While splitting carries for his first four NFL seasons, it was often said Brian Westbrook was too slight to be an every-down back. Finally, in 2006, the Eagles couldn’t hold the third-round pick from Villanova back any longer. Westbrook rushed for 2,550 yards and 14 touchdowns total in '06 and '07, tacking on another 1,470 yards and nine scores through the air. Only Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson had more yards from scrimmage during that two-year window.

Westbrook was already 28 by then, and his body began to betray him not long after, so we’ll never know what might have been. Yet, if the Eagles learned anything from that experience, it's not to assume a smaller running back can't handle a full workload.

That, in a nutshell, is the debate over Christian McCaffrey right now.

Arguably the best all-purpose back in the 2017 NFL draft, McCaffrey's skill set is like that of Westbrook reincarnated. What the consensus All-American lacks in burst and pure speed, he makes up for with a smooth, patient running style and tremendous vision. He's an elite receiver out of the backfield, with 82 receptions for 672 yards and 8 touchdowns over the past two seasons alone. McCaffrey even returns punts and kicks, with a touchdown doing each.

 

The case could be made the Eagles will not find a better running back to fit the West Coast offense. If his ceiling is Westbrook, his floor is probably Darren Sproles. McCaffrey will hang around the NFL for years because he's intelligent and versatile, with the ability to take a handoff or line up as a wide receiver.

Although, if McCaffrey is more Sproles than Westbrook, it's difficult to justify using the No. 14 pick on such a situational player. For much of his NFL career, Sproles has been more receiver than rusher. He was never afforded the same opportunity as Westbrook. Sproles' greatness is undeniable, but if you could go back and redo the 2005 draft, he probably isn't a first-round pick, much less top 15.

McCaffrey isn't nearly as diminutive as Sproles (5-6, 190), so perhaps a direct comparison is not apt here. The point is the number of touches McCaffrey can handle at the next level -- specifically as a ball carrier, between the tackles -- is central to whether he can be a consideration for the Eagles.

Honestly, there's very little evidence to suggest McCaffrey can't do it. After all, the 2015 AP Player of the Year registered over 750 total touches between rushing, receiving and returns over the past two years alone. He did miss two games with an undisclosed injury last season and may have been slowed by the ailment for longer, but McCaffrey finished the '16 campaign strong, averaging 26.6 carries for 198.2 yards per game over the final five outings of his collegiate career.

McCaffrey's combine performance received some unwarranted attention when he managed just 10 reps on the bench press. Still, that doesn't necessarily speak to durability.

Plus, McCaffrey shined in other aspects of the combine. His 40- and 20-yard shuttle times ranked fourth among running backs, while his three-cone drill was far and away the best at the position -- a true indicator of what a dangerous threat he can be in the open field.

Westbrook didn't blow anybody away at the combine. He just did that on the football field. And while he probably would've achieved success anywhere in the NFL, Westbrook thrived in Andy Reid's version of the West Coast offense, especially once the Eagles stopped limiting his touches. It's a testament to how important finding the right fit is.

McCaffrey might not be worth the No. 14 pick to just any team, especially with more explosive runners like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook in the mix. To the Eagles, with Reid disciple Doug Pederson running the show, McCaffrey might be the most sensible choice as far as backs are concerned.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams