Have glowing words for a draft prospect and Twitter is set aflame. That sums up some of the activity on the Twitterverse when Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio spoke of Stanford do-everything tailback Christian McCaffrey at the NFL combine.
“He is a great football player who is going to make an impact in this league,” Del Rio said of McCaffrey.
That line helped create a debate among RaiderNation if taking the Cardinal dynamo at No. 24 overall in the draft would be a wise choice. A lackluster bench press performance (10 reps of 225 lbs) tempered optimism. After, the flames ignited after posting scintillating numbers in the 40 (4.48 seconds) and three-cone (6.57 ticks) drill. McCaffrey, not surprisingly, excelled in pass-catching drills.
At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, McCaffrey doesn’t profile as the bruising red-zone pounder the Raiders need. In fact, he is very similar to current Raiders RBs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. All are speedy, shifty and can catch the rock out of the backfield. However, draft pundits profile McCaffrey as not only a first-round pick, but a polished one at that.
“If you draft McCaffrey, you’re getting a really good running back and wide receiver,” noted ESPN’s Todd McShay.
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Lining up McCaffrey in the slot or having him motion out to WR is a tantalizing for a player with soft hands and deep speed. Yet, RaiderNation most likely would not cheer if Oakland spends the 24th overall pick on an offensive player. With so many holes and needs on the defensive side, justifying McCaffrey’s selection is tough.
Still, if there is one person who doesn’t need an in depth scouting report on McCaffrey, it’s Del Rio. His son Luke and McCaffrey were teammates at Valor Christian High in Colorado. As a result of his time in Colorado, Del Rio knows McCaffrey.
“I’ve seen Christian and I heard the people question whether he’d be able to go from the high school level to the college level. He tore it up,” Del Rio said of McCaffrey. “And now the questions will come out, can he go from the college game to the pro game? I think you’re going to see the same thing.”
By and large, Del Rio showed a daring gambler streakr. Does he get McKenzie to roll the dice on McCaffrey?