With the NFL Draft approaching, Christian McCaffrey has gone from potential first-round pick to likely first-round pick to likely top-10 pick. In fact, at least one analyst believes McCaffrey should go No. 1 overall.
“Well, here’s how I look at it,” Super Bowl champion Brady Poppinga said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “When you’re going to the draft and getting players, it’s like you’re going to the mall or you’re going on some website to go shopping and you want to get the best deal you can get. You want to get the most for your money. When you look at a guy like Christian McCaffrey, he is as good (and as versatile as there is).”
Indeed, McCaffrey is one of the most versatile players in college football history, someone who authored electrifying plays as a running back, receiver and returner.
“He’s not a utility guy,” Poppinga said. “Eric Mangini called Christian McCaffrey a utility guy. He’s not a utility guy. To me, utility guy means he’s someone that can do a bunch of things pretty good. Christian McCaffrey, when you break down his game, his ability to play running back is as good as Ezekiel Elliott’s. Between the tackles, you just say we’re going to run you 30 times. He’s as good as Ezekiel Elliott, his breakaway speed, all that kind of stuff, his vision, you can go down the list as just a running back. Then you compartmentalize his ability to play as a slot receiver. He’s as good as an an Emmanuel Sanders. He’s as good as a Julian Edelman. And then you look at him in the return game, he’s as good as any returner I’ve seen come out of college since Devin Hester. So imagine if all of a sudden in a draft you’re able to go get Devin Hester, Ezekiel Elliott and Julian Edelman all in one pick. Thats what you get with Christian McCaffrey.”
Poppinga knows what you’re thinking: Running backs have become devalued, so why take one with the No. 1 overall pick?
That mindset, however, does not apply to McCaffrey.
“He’s not just a running back,” Poppinga said. “This is just one of many things he can do. Why not go get one guy who counts for three? All of a sudden do you know how much roster flexibility you have? You don’t have to go chase some sixth-string receiver so he’s a return guy, or some fourth-string running back so that all of a sudden he can go and do special teams. You have so much flexibility that you can keep three quarterbacks on your roster if you felt like one is really good and not feel like you have to hide him on the practice squad. You have so many options with a guy like him, but the best thing is, you use one draft pick and you essentially get three first-rounders in one shot.”