Packers Draft Preview: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
While it’s still possible the Packers could shore up their backfield through free agency, every day it becomes more and more likely that Ty Montgomery’s eventual running back will only come to Green Bay via the draft.
With every passing week, more and more draft analysts seem to conclude that the running back drafted to accompany Montgomery will be his former Stanford teammate, Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, a former Heisman trophy candidate and possibly the most complete back in the draft, could be an amazing complementary piece to Montgomery, who has similar skills.
What are McCaffrey’s strengths?
- Elite short area quickness highlighted by record setting 3-cone drill at the Combine
- Remarkably productive in college – his 1,913 yards from scrimmage and 16 total touchdowns as a junior was considered a down year
- Tremendous positional versatility – McCaffrey can line up as a running back or receiver
- Experience in a pro-style offense
What are McCaffrey’s weaknesses?
- Small for the position at just 202 pounds
- Already has more than 700 career touches
- Versatility could be viewed as having no “best” position
- Not an elite pass protector
How Christian McCaffrey fits with the Packers
It’s fairly easy to say confidently that McCaffrey would be a great fit with the Packers. That’s because Stanford’s head coach, David Shaw, thinks he’s exactly like someone who already plays for the Packers: running back Ty Montgomery.
"The closest comparison to McCaffrey is Ty Montgomery," head coach David Shaw told The Palo Alto Daily News in 2014. "Christian is more of a runner than Ty (Montgomery). Ty is more of a receiver than Christian."
While the Packers have traditionally liked to slot their backs into firm roles (lead back, backup, etc.), the departure of Eddie Lacy coupled with Montgomery’s versatility could signal a sea change. If the Packers are looking for more versatility in the backfield, perhaps they’d consider using someone like McCaffrey at the same time as Montgomery.
A similar arrangement worked well for the Atlanta Falcons. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both had similar skills, but the Falcons used them interchangeably and at times simultaneously, forcing defenses to respond to their unique threats.
Will the Packers draft McCaffrey?
As alluring a prospect as McCaffrey is, the packers have other significant needs to address that may outweigh what McCaffrey brings as a running back. Though running backs are a tricky pick in the first round, that may not be the ultimate conflict here.
It’s no secret that the Packers need to fix their defense; they need an influx of talent in the secondary and in the front seven.
However, this draft is also thought to be unusually deep among both pass rushers and cornerbacks, and if the Packers believe they can get a solid contributor with their second round pick (61st overall), McCaffrey may not be a bad option at the end of the first round.