As the draft has approached, a popular theory has emerged linking running back Christian McCaffrey to the Panthers at No. 8. (Indeed, that’s where he resides in the 2017 PFT Worst Mock Draft Ever.)
A source with knowledge of the dynamics believes the McCaffrey chatter is likely a smokescreen, one of the many that are wafting through the air like whatever Phil Simms pushed in the direction of Jim Nantz. Regardless of whether Carolina pulls the trigger, the expected range for McCaffrey currently is No. 5 through No. 15.
This means that if a team picking between No. 9 and No. 15 believes the Panthers chatter, that team could trade up to jump the Panthers.
If McCaffrey indeed goes in the top 15, the team that takes him needs to be ready to embrace him, fully and completely and not as a member of a three-man rotation. Picks that high should be reserved only to players who will be on the field all the time; if the team that takes him isn’t prepared to do that, the team shouldn’t take him.
McCaffrey’s ability to play tailback and slot receiver makes him conducive to a team that will use the no-huddle offense from time to time, allowing McCaffrey to be deployed in various ways in the hopes of creating mismatches. If McCaffrey plays at the next level like he played in college, he could instantly be a difference-maker. The current indications are that at least one team picking in the first half of round one will feel that way.