Round 1 (#32) – RB/WR Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (6’1 | 200 | 4.48)
If the Bears are going to trade for a new quarterback, then they should get him some legitimate weapons as well. The Bears offense averaged just 17.4 points per game, 28th in the league last year, and were in the bottom third in pass plays over 25 yards.
It’s an offense that is solely lacking in big-play threats. There are a couple of solid players with Pro Bowl potential in Jordan Howard and Cameron Meredith, but no one that is a threat to score whenever they touch the ball. Drafting McCaffrey would change that.
His speed is just above-average for the next level, but his vision, acceleration, and balance are all elite even for the NFL. McCaffrey runs with patience while visualizing holes opening up on both levels of the defense, then displays elite burst through them, and the balance to keep his feet after contact.
Despite a lack of bulk, McCaffrey plays bigger than his listed weight of 205 pounds. He uses subtle movements to throw off tackle angles and has enough lower body power to gain yards after contact and finish forward. His size could make him an injury risk though and may keep him from living between the tackles.
McCaffrey may not have the bulk to be an every-down running back, but that doesn’t mean he has to leave the field. He was a wide receiver in high school and his dad is former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey, so the experience and bloodlines are there. McCaffrey looks natural in the slot and has even lined up outside the hashes for Stanford.
He has natural hands, routinely made catches away from his body, and is already an above-average route runner. McCaffrey consistently gets separation at the receiver position and transitions seamlessly to a running back after the catch.
On offense, McCaffrey can line up all over the field depending on the game situation and has the versatility to be an every-down player. He is also a dangerous return man. At Stanford, he averaged 26.4 yards per kick return, 11.2 yards per punt, and took one of each to the house.
McCaffrey can improve the Bears rushing, passing, and return games, which is pretty good value at the end of the first round. The more I watch McCaffrey, the more I think he’d be the perfect complement to Jordan Howard.
I understand that the Bears have bigger needs than at running back but with John Fox set on using two backs, the Bears could use an upgrade over Jeremy Langford and his 3.2 yards per carry. McCaffrey is also much more than just a running back with the ability to line up at receiver on early downs, then move into the backfield on passing downs. The fact that he’d already be the best kick and punt returner on the team is gravy.
The Bears have plenty of other needs, but getting more explosive on offense should be high on their priority list and there may not be a player in the draft who can help in more ways than McCaffrey. Watch the highlight reel below and tell me that guy wouldn’t make the Bears offense more dangerous. My primary concern with drafting McCaffrey is that OC Dowell Loggains won’t use him correctly, but Loggains may not be around for long.
McCaffrey is one of the best runners I’ve seen in years with the ability to change direction without losing speed, an extra gear in the open field when needed, elite vision, excellent burst, with natural hands and route running ability as a receiver. I have McCaffrey graded in the top 15 overall and the Bears would be fortunate if he slips to the end of the first round.