Denver Broncos general manager John Elway did not initially agree with Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s decision to skip the Sun Bowl to avoid possible injury, but that won’t stop Elway and the Broncos from meeting with McCaffrey at the NFL Scouting Combine this week.
McCaffrey joined several other prominent college football stars this past season in skipping their teams’ bowl games to preserve their health with a potentially lucrative NFL career on the horizon. John Elway, who also played college football for the Stanford Cardinal, did not speak kindly of McCaffrey’s decision when it was announced, but in retrospect, he has softened his stance on the topic, per CBS Denver.
“You know what, I understand it now. Obviously, when I thought about it, kind of the old school in me wanted to come out saying, ‘Why not play? It’s your last game.'” But I tell you what, when you look at where the league is now and the value of these contracts for these kids coming out now, and the risk that they’re taking, the old salty guy in me got flipped back to saying I understand why they didn’t play.”
Not all NFL executives are accepting of players skipping the final game of their college careers so they don’t risk injury. Another Stanford alumnus, San Fransisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, admitted that he wasn’t a fan of McCaffrey’s decision and went on to share that he knows players skipping bowl games for this reason “really bothers” a lot of NFL front office personnel. It remains to be seen if this situation will affect the draft stock of any of the players involved, but it’s a reality that NFL general managers now have to deal with.
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Christian McCaffrey already has strong connections to the Denver Broncos organization. His father, Ed, played wide receiver for Stanford as well as the Denver Broncos — catching passes from none other than quarterback John Elway, as described by Mile High Sports. McCaffrey has stated to the media that he would love to play for the Broncos, and Elway also thinks very highly of McCaffrey as an NFL prospect.
“He’s a dynamic player who can do it all,” Elway said. “Wherever he goes, he’s going to have an impact immediately.”
The Detroit Free Press reveals that McCaffrey is considered a probable first-round draft pick. If Denver wants to add McCaffrey to their roster, they would likely have to use their first-round choice (No. 20 overall) to land the former Stanford star. The running back position does not appear to be one of the team’s top needs (offensive line should arguably be the prime focus of the Broncos’ early-round draft picks), so it might be a reach for John Elway to grab Christian McCaffrey at No. 20 unless he truly believes that McCaffrey is a three-down running back who can become a star at the NFL level.
Christian McCaffrey is a smaller running back (six feet tall, 201 pounds) who would normally project to being a third-down back in the NFL. However, he has shown physical toughness as a runner and has displayed his versatility as a wide receiver and a return man, as detailed by CSN Chicago. McCaffrey’s ability to contribute in a variety of ways to a football team serves to increase his value; thus, he carries a first-round grade from many NFL Draft scouts and could be on the Denver Broncos’ radar.
Christian McCaffrey is the latest in a long line of talented, but smallish running backs to enter the NFL with hopes of stardom. Many of those players faded into NFL obscurity while a few overcame the odds and became prominent performers in the National Football League. McCaffrey, who is currently working out and conducting interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, will soon get the opportunity to prove he belongs among the NFL’s elite.
[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]