Panthers compare McCaffrey to many backs, including a Hall of Famer

AP

Because Christian McCaffrey is a non-traditional running back (i.e. a white one, you might as well just say it), there is an irresistible compulsion to compare him to other backs when attempting to describe his versatility as a runner, receiver and return man.

Coach Ron Rivera threw a few names out there last night, mentioning Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles, and Brian Westbrook with a little LeSean McCoy mixed in.

But when it was General Manager Dave Gettleman’s turn, he put McCaffrey in the same answer with a Hall-of-Famer while vouching for McCaffrey’s abilities to be a bell-cow back.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” Gettleman said. “The best tackle-box runner I’ve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him. Running in that tackle box takes unique vision and unique quickness, and he’s got it. Curtis Martin had it, and he had a great career – a Hall of Fame career – and this kid’s got those kind of skills.”

Martin ran for 14,101 yards in 11 seasons, fourth on the all-time list before heading to Canton.

That’s a high bar to set for a guy who doesn’t walk into an immediate starting job (the Panthers just gave veteran Jonathan Stewart a one-year contract extension this offseason). But they made it clear they see McCaffrey having an immediate impact for them this season.

“You saw him do everything – line up as the tailback, line up as the halfback, line up as the quarterback in the Wildcat, motion out and run a wheel route, return kicks,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “This is a guy who you can get the ball in his hands many different ways and quickly.”

Now how they’re able to do that is the next question. The Panthers would have preferred Leonard Fournette, primarily because he fits everything they already do as an offense. McCaffrey is, to put it simply, a finesse player dropped into the middle of a power and play-action offense. A Swiss-Army knife in a sledgehammer offense. Not only do they not have a similar player, they don’t have many of the plays with which to capitalize on McCaffrey’s skills.

Creating those plays, and installing them in an offense which won’t have its quarterback until training camp (while Cam Newton mends from shoulder surgery) is going to be a challenge for the coaching staff which has been talking about “evolving” all offseason.

24 responses to “Panthers compare McCaffrey to many backs, including a Hall of Famer

  1. That’s two critical articles you’ve written about this pick in the last 10 or 12 hours. I didn’t want it either, the problem with the plays we’d use him for never working is the blocking not the RB/WR (especially screens). He will be a great check down back and a guy who can make himself small between tackles and juke a DB and take off. So I’m kind of in “meh, wait and see” mode. I doubt Shula’s coaching more than anything, I don’t find him all that creative.

  2. The Carolina Paper Tigers will not succeed with this addition – you see, this will force their fraud QB, Cam Cheating, into having to actually play the position of QB and not a fake running back – and there is where this will blow up in the faces of the Carolina Paper Tigers – this jerk is not able to run the position as a true QB – he has to run to become effective – that is all he knows (aside from how to cheat in college and to avoid charges on stolen property).

  3. Way before this pick the Panthers have been talking about adding more short passes to their offence. This pick is exactly what they needed to make that happen. Their big guys on the outside (Benjamin + Funchess) along with Olsen at TE has always created an opening underneath. The Panthers now have a player that can take advantage of that hole.

  4. He’s not Martin as a runner. I’m not sure he’s as good as Bush as a gadget player, and he’s certainly not in the same league as Westbrook and Sprolls, so I want to know what Gettleman was smoking. But this is the guy who let his top 5 CB walk and replaced him with street FAs and bad rookies last year, so go figure.

  5. He’s not a 3 down back. He’s a scatback. ANyone drafting a scatback in Rd 1 is a moron in this league.

    Then, you end up paying him way too much money in 4 years.

    I don’t understand why teams keep doing this to themselves.

    The NFL is a different level than the NFL.

  6. It’s unclear to me why anyone would mention Reggie Bush in the same breath with a Darren Sproles, Brian Westbrook, and LeSean McCoy.

    Bush never did develop into the multi-purpose weapon Sproles has been for many years, and both Westbrook and McCoy were superior runners/receivers. In fact, McCoy has a shot at Canton.

    If you’re a Panthers fan, you don’t want McCaffrey to be another Reggie Bush, that would be a disappointing draft pick.

  7. If you’re a Panthers fan, you don’t want McCaffrey to be another Reggie Bush, that would be a disappointing draft pick.

    ———–

    Exactly. It’s also VERY likely, with Bush as well, that McCaffrey peaked in college.

    5’11 200 lbs is not a 3 down back.

    He may or may not be able to work in the slot and maybe become a WR like with how Edelman did it, but this is a top 1o pick!

    Crazy.

  8. OK I have read & Heard enough IF Cam Newton is to stupid to learn to throw a screen pass or learn a new offence system lets Trade his ass

  9. He’s not Martin as a runner. I’m not sure he’s as good as Bush as a gadget player, and he’s certainly not in the same league as Westbrook and Sprolls, so I want to know what Gettleman was smoking. But this is the guy who let his top 5 CB walk and replaced him with street FAs and bad rookies last year, so go figure.

    ————–

    Anyone drafting a scatback in Rd 1 or early in Rd 1 is an idiot.

    Period.

    CJ Spiller, Bush, etc, you name it. Only 3 down players should go in Rd 1.

    At 5’11 200 lbs, no way McCaffrey is a 3 down player and it’s quite possible he has peaked already at the NCAA level. You won’t see his same level of play at the NFL level.

  10. Way before this pick the Panthers have been talking about adding more short passes to their offence. This pick is exactly what they needed to make that happen. Their big guys on the outside (Benjamin + Funchess) along with Olsen at TE has always created an opening underneath. The Panthers now have a player that can take advantage of that hole.

    ————-

    Newton lacks accuracy for that. Your defense is older and weaker and Latulelei will rob Gettleman blind, unless they wisely decide to deal him off instead.

  11. Don’t know if anyone reading remembers his pro day where he worked out exclusively as a receiver. Dude graded out as first round talent at receiver too. Don’t let his college position name pigeonhole him. They will find a role for him to be successful

  12. If you ever watched Stanford play (and I realize the least coast folks can’t stay up until 2 am to watch best coast games) you would know how good McCaffrey is. I’m not a Cardinal fan, but McCaffrey was easily the best college player I’ve seen in 10+ years. He looked like he was an adult playing against children.

    The problem I see for him in Carolina is playing in an offense with a running QB. I don’t see Newton becoming a pure pocket passer (that has not been his strength) anytime soon (though superman may want to look at the clock and realize he’s not getting any younger, and accumulated hits are a players kryptonite).

  13. Changing positions from the NCAA to the NFL is not worth a 1st rd pick. I tmeans he is a scatback and a project at slot WR.

    It’s not impossible, it’s just risky and an unknown, and certainly not worth a pick that high.

    A lot of these crap football markets make flashy draft picks to get fans excited for ticket sales and this is one of those times.

  14. Can you imagine McCaffrey’s disappointment of having to play for a QB who was too much of a coward to try and even recover his own fumble in a SB?

  15. So the panthers are now committed to a short passing game…but they waited until the end of March to have their QB get surgery on his throwing shoulder.

    So a QB that already has probably the worst fundamentals in the league is just going to learn a system by osmosis.

    I don’t buy that he’s back for the beginning of training camp…if so his recovery time is the top 1% of the 1%.

    Panther Fan.

  16. “It doesn’t happen very often,” Gettleman said. “The best tackle-box runner I’ve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him.”

    He hasn’t even played a down in the NFL, pump the brakes a little.

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