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Grading the Big 5: Week-by-week grades for Christian McCaffrey

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah will grade the performances of 5 top prospects each week of the 2016 season. Click the tabs above to see their marks.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Cumulative season grade: B

WEEK 6 GRADE: C+

Stats: 8 carries for 35 yards (4.4 average). 1 catch for 5 yards. (vs. Washington State)
Skinny: There's no disputing McCaffrey's value as a multi-purpose threat, but scouts have always had concerns about his potential durability as a pro due to his size. Those questions will persist after the 5-foot-11, 200-pound playmaker sat out most of the second half with an undisclosed injury. Although David Shaw suggested that his star was simply "banged up" and kept out of the game due to the lopsided score, the fact that he left the field and didn't re-enter the game after taking a pummeling at the hands of the Cougars' defense will raise more concerns about his ability to handle a heavy workload as an RB1. This will overshadow his electric flashes of balance, body control and stop-start quickness in a game where he finished with just 40 total yards from scrimmage on 9 touches. Although McCaffrey's impressive resume will suggest he has all of the tools to be a dynamic RB1, his inability to finish against Washington State will provide skeptics with ammunition in meeting rooms. -- Bucky Brooks

WEEK 5 GRADE: B

Stats: 12 carries for 49 yards (4.1 average). 5 catches for 30 yards (6.0 average). 5 kickoff returns for 144 yards (28.8 average). (at Washington)
Skinny: The stat sheet wasn't sexy, but I thought McCaffrey played well. The Stanford offensive line was physically dominated by the Washington defensive front. There was very little room for McCaffrey to operate. He still showed his strength and toughness to fight for respectable yards in the run game and he made some plays in the passing game as well. His best contribution was on kickoff returns. He popped one long return and did a good job of creating favorable field position throughout the game. Overall, it wasn't what we're accustomed to seeing from him in the box score, but it was a solid effort from McCaffrey. -- Daniel Jeremiah

WEEK 4 GRADE: B+

Stats: 26 carries for 138 yards (5.3 average). 2 catches for 13 yards (6.5 average). 1 kickoff return for 14 yards. (at UCLA)
Skinny: The Cardinal offense is essentially a "one-man show" with McCaffrey expected to deliver a handful of splash plays as a runner-receiver-returner. He routinely tallies 200-plus scrimmage yards as the focal point of the Cardinal offense despite facing a host of eight- and nine-man fronts designed to neutralize his impact on the field. Against a gritty UCLA defense, McCaffrey was kept under wraps for most of the night but he had a blue-collar performance that will silence some of the questions about his ability to handle a role as a feature back as a pro. The 6-foot, 200-pound runner exhibited exceptional toughness and resiliency running the ball between the tackles against a defense that owned the line of scrimmage for most of the night. This was exactly the kind of performance NFL scouts wanted to see to validate McCaffrey's status as a legitimate RB1 prospect instead of a "gadget" playmaker as a pro. -- Bucky Brooks

WEEK 3 GRADE: A

Stats: 30 carries for 165 yards (5.5 average), TD. 4 catches for 73 yards (18.3 average), TD. 1 kickoff return for 22 yards. (vs. USC)
Skinny: McCaffrey had another strong performance against USC. He was a workhorse in the running game, grinding out tough, hard yards between the tackles. He consistently put the Cardinal in favorable third-down situations and he produced a chunk play in the passing game. He did fumble early in the game but it was recovered by Stanford. -- Daniel Jeremiah

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WEEK 2: On bye

WEEK 1 GRADE: A-

Stats: 22 carries for 126 yards (5.7 average), 2 TDs. 7 catches for 40 yards. 2 punt returns for 16 yards. 1 kickoff return for 28 yards. (vs. Kansas State)
Skinny: The 6-foot, 200-pounder continues to act as a one-man show for the Cardinal offense. Against Kansas State, McCaffrey accounted for 210 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns. He did most of his damage on dynamic runs between the tackles, exhibiting his cat-like quickness, balance and body control. On his 41-yard touchdown run, in particular, it was McCaffrey's wiggle and burst that will earn high marks from NFL scouts. Not to mention, the explosive shake and bake he displayed on a 98-yard punt return touchdown that was nullified due to penalty. With McCaffrey also snagging seven balls for 40 yards out of the backfield, it's hard to knock the slippery playmaker for his efforts. -- Bucky Brooks

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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