Christian McCaffreygot snubbed for the Heisman Trophy after being one of college football's most dynamic players. The Stanford running back prospect is getting his revenge with his rapidly rising stock for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Once thought to be the consensus No. 3 back in the class, McCaffrey hasgainedground on LSU's Leonard Fournette inmock drafts, now being taken ahead of Florida State's Dalvin Cook in many of them. That hastaken McCaffrey from fringe first-rounder to a surefire top 32overall pick.
Although that means his perfect NFLteam won't be able to drafthim —the Patriots no longerhave afirst-round pick —there are still several excellent fits for his services.
Based on selection, needand what McCaffrey can do for their offenses, here are the five best bets.
WATCH: McCaffrey Pro Day highlights
(Pick No. 14)
Philadelphia is likely to address one of two positions in the first round — running back or cornerback. Those draft values line up well with the team'supper-half selection.
If the Eagles go offensive backfield, it willbe a tough decision between McCaffrey and Cook. So far the theme of the offseason has been giving quarterbackCarson Wentzplaymaker upgrades forYear 2, led by the signing of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. McCaffreyoffers the right combination of tough running, versatilityand explosivenessfor Doug Pederson's West Coast-tinged scheme.
Drafting McCaffreywould allowthe Eaglestomove on from Ryan Mathews.Darren Sproles has defied his age as a scatback,but he's slowed down a bit in the punt return game, and the Eagles could use a new gamebreaker on kickoffs.
(Pick No. 15)
It doesn't hurt that Indianapolis has another prominent Stanford product in quarterback Andrew Luck,but McCaffrey's appeal to the team goes well beyonda Cardinal connection. He's built to do many of the thingsFrank Gore, soon to be 34,does for the Colts' offense, only withfresh legs.
Beyond theearly-down pop McCaffrey wouldprovide, he'dbecome an additional go-to receiver behind T.Y. Hilton,a perfectunderneath outlet for a high-volume, downfield passing game. His speed would looksleek on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf right along with theirother quick, fast skill players.
(Pick No. 20)
Denver can't ignore the son of its one-time All-Pro wide receiver, Ed, given thatthe older McCaffrey and John Elway won two Super Bowls togetheras a smooth Stanford combination. The pedigree and familiarity are only part of the reason to at least consider Christian.
Shakyblocking wasn't the only reason the Broncos had the No. 27 rushing attackin the NFL last season withonly 3.6 yards per carry. Leading rushers Devontae Booker and C.J. Anderson were tentative running backsand carrieddurability concernswithdecisiveness issues. Neither showed much big-run ability, and both were limited factors in the passing game.
The Broncos need more playmakers for their QB, whether it's Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch or Tony Romo. McCaffrey would be right there behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to drive defenses batty all over the field. New/returning offensive coordinator Mike McCoy would get the combination of what he had in Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead in San Diego.
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(Pick No. 24)
Oakland officials, just an hour down the road from Palo Alto, Calif., should have paid closeattention to McCaffrey's college career. The Raiders alsogaveMcCaffrey's older brother, former Duke wide receiver Max, a shot as an undrafted free agent last offseason.
So they alreadyhave a strongappreciation for what Christian can do, and coach Jack Del Rio has thrown the word"great" his way during the pre-draft process. The Raiders didn't re-signLatavius Murray, and they have quietednoise that a big-name,fading veteran likeAdrian Peterson or retiredMarshawn Lynchwill be the choice to replace him. There'sa good chance that willbe a rookie.
They need a back who pound it and score, and McCaffrey fits that bill.His skill set also matches the home-run potentialthey have in second-year backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. McCaffrey would give Derek Carr an extra game-changer in the passing game who can benefit from the coverage Amari Cooper,Michael Crabtree and new tight end Jared Cook draw downfield.
New Orleans Saints
(Pick No. 11 or No. 32)
New Orleans is in play for the hometown hero Fournette, but there's a strong chance he'll be gone before that initialfirst-rounder. And really, McCaffrey isthe better all-around back for the Saints' offense, so the question is:Are they willing and able to a) use that higher pick on him b) tradedown from 11thto get him at a more comfortable spotor c) trade up from 32nd to get him before he's gone, too?
The span between the picksalso represents the wide range of McCaffrey's current draft value. Having two high picks post-Brandin Cooks gives the Saints a chance to address a defensive need early and also gooffensive luxury to address their closing window with Drew Brees at the helm. Given how Mark Ingram disappointed last season, a back of McCaffrey's caliberis more of a necessitythan they would like to admit.
McCaffrey would have a big, immediate impact with any role in a loaded, rebootedattack.