Todd McShay has the Philadelphia Eagles doing something they haven't done in more than 30 years: drafting a running back in the first round.
McShay released his third mock draft of the offseason Wednesday, and has the Eagles selecting Stanford's Christian McCaffrey at No. 14 overall. The Eagles haven't used their first-round pick on a back since 1986 when they selected Keith Byars out of Ohio State. Part of Byars' allure was his versatility, as he went on to play fullback and tight end for the Eagles. McShay sees McCaffrey as a multi-position player as well, which is a big part of why he has him being taken so early.
"He's not only a running back, he's also a wide receiver, and I don't say that about many people," McShay explained during an appearance on First Take. "I think you can legitimately put McCaffrey in the slot and have him go run routes like a slot receiver. And then you can move him into the backfield and run him 10, 12, 15 times a game if that's what you decide to do. And he's got the return ability. And to be honest with you, the combine stuff, I only take for a very small portion of the process, but what he put up at the combine, those numbers were absolutely ridiculous in terms of the explosion, speed."
McCaffrey tested in the 97th percentile in the three-cone drill and ran a sub 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He worked not only with the running backs in Indianapolis but the receivers as well, "and he looked like a first-round pick there, too" according to the NFL Network's Charlie Casserly. It's wasn't all roses, as McCaffrey had a poor showing in the bench press at the combine.
McCaffrey (6-foot, 201 pounds) did a little bit of everything at Stanford. He set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards as a sophomore (3,864), running for more than 2,000 yards while catching 45 balls for 645 yards and returning both a punt and a kick back for touchdowns. He was slowed by injury for part of 2016 but still had 1,913 yards from scrimmage in 11 games.
McShay allowed that McCaffrey is "missing the power element" as a runner and might not be built to be a workhorse.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson's system doesn't necessarily call for a traditional, pound-it back. In fact, as mentor Andy Reid can attest, this scheme seems to be at its best when it deploys a dual threat out of the backfield, such as Brian Westbrook and Jamaal Charles, for instance.
The Eagles are in need of running-back help. Ryan Mathews is currently recovering from a neck injury and is not expected to be with the team. Darren Sproles is 33 years old and expected to play only one more season, and second-year back Wendell Smallwood remains largely unproven.
While it's a concern, the Eagles have more pressing needs, like cornerback. It might be difficult to justify selecting a running back in the first round, especially when executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has already called the depth at that position in this draft "historic." If they can snare a difference-maker in the third round, say, wouldn't it be better to load up on defense early?
McCaffrey appears to be a fit, but the Eagles would need to be absolutely over the moon on him to consider pulling the trigger at 14.