How will Christian McCaffrey fit into an NFL offense, and how much of a role can his 197-pound frame handle?
Those are two of the primary questions NFL scouts will face in evaluating the former Stanford star running back, whose versatility as a receiver and return specialist will make him an attractive option for NFL clubs in search of a multi-skilled player at the position. Comparisons for McCaffrey are plentiful, as NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks learned in asking various scouts and personnel executives about him.
An NFC area scout, in fact, worked two McCaffrey comparisons into the same sentence.
"You know (he's going to be compared) to Marshall Faulk, but I see him more like Brian Westbrook," the scout said. "He is a change-of-pace back and a returner. He will make some plays, but I don't think he can be your No. 1 guy."
Like McCaffrey, Westbrook wasn't especially big (5-feet-10, 203 pounds) but fashioned a highly productive nine-year NFL career, mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles. Westbrook's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield generated nearly 4,000 career receiving yards. McCaffrey won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player as a sophomore in 2015, amassing an NCAA record-breaking 3,864 all-purpose yards.
Brooks offered New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis as his own comparison for McCaffrey. An AFC senior personnel executive described McCaffrey as a bigger, faster version of Los Angeles Chargers RB Danny Woodhead, while an NFC senior personnel executive warned of a bad comparison that might also be made.
"Don't make the mistake of comparing him to Reggie Bush. I don't think he is nearly as explosive or as dynamic as Bush was when he came out of USC," the executive said. "With that being said, I think we saw how NFL teams used Bush as a pro. I think you do the same thing with McCaffrey. ... I don't see him carrying the load. I see him catching the ball out of the backfield or getting the ball on some gadgets. I might be wrong, but I just don't see him as a full-time guy."