INDIANAPOLIS -- Christian McCaffrey doesn't feel like he's getting his due.
The former Stanford RB broke Barry Sanders' single-season all-purpose yardage record in 2015 (3,864) and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He still rushed for 1,639 yards in 2016 despite being hampered by a hip bruise. Now, the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder is facing doubts about whether he can carry a full workload in the NFL at his size.
When asked on Thursday if he feels like he's disrespected in the 2017 RB class, he said yes, definitely.
"Because I play with a chip on my shoulder always," McCaffrey said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "So I feel like a lot of people don't give me credit for my skills and talents and that's just the way it is, but I also don't really care too much."
It's not uncommon for athletes, even the very best of them, to use any slight, perceived or real, as motivation, so it's not stunning that McCaffrey feels this way.
However, it is true that debates about which RB in this year's draft is the best include two players, and neither is McCaffrey. The former Stanford star is third in NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock's ranking of the draft's top RBs, right behind Florida State's Dalvin Cook and LSU's Leonard Fournette, and both Cook and Fournette have their backers when it comes to discussing who's the best at the position.
McCaffrey, on the other hand, is a more polarizing prospect than those two. He's as versatile as any back, making contributions as a rusher, receiver and returner, but scouts are skeptical that he can be a No. 1 back. He said on Thursday that he can be an every-down back and a specialist, doing both at the same time.
If a team entrusts him with that kind of workload and he flourishes, he'll have proved the doubters wrong and suddenly have a lot more respect. Until that happens, plan on that chip staying on his shoulder.