INDIANAPOLIS—Christian McCaffrey can run, catch, return, smile, joke, play musical instruments, talk and politely answer questions honestly and intelligently with ease.
What he can’t, or won’t, do is get over the fact he is generally rated as the third-best -- and only the third-best -- running back in this draft.
McCaffrey flatly said he feels disrespected about where he stands in this running back class, which, by the way, is behind Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook, but ahead of everyone else.
“Yeah, definitely,’’ McCaffrey said here Thursday afternoon during his 15-minute interview session with the media covering the NFL Scouting Combine. “I play with a chip on my shoulder always. I feel like a lot of people don’t give me credit for my skills and talents. That’s just the way it is.
“I also don’t really care too much. I don’t feel like I’m crazy disrespected. I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. That’s my whole life. I’m constantly trying to prove myself.’’
McCaffrey is a versatile player in the Darren Sproles mold, only Sproles is not an every down back. McCaffrey always has been, whether at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, where he also played defensive back for secondary coach Brian Dawkins, or at Stanford.
After training for the combine with Loren Landow in the Centennial, McCaffrey’s big event here may be the 40-yard dash. Running back is a speed position and because McCaffrey has such a smooth running style, NFL scouts may want to see him beat a 4.5-second time with their own eyes.
Can his 40 time be the difference between getting drafted in the first round or second?
“I don’t know. I’m not a decision maker so I have no idea,’’ he said. “My tape’s out there and that’s the majority of the work I’ve put in.’’
The full tape shows 3,622 rushing yards, 955 receiving yards, 1,614 return yards and 31 touchdowns his final two years at Stanford.
There is no tape of McCaffrey during Stanford’s 25-23 Sun Bowl win against North Carolina. McCaffrey decided to skip the bowl game and get going with his pro career, a decision that made sense to many but raised eyebrows to others.
Fournette also skipped LSU’s bowl game and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers came up injured in pregame warmups of his bowl game.
“As a Stanford man I wasn’t a huge fan of that, we could have used him,’’ said San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch. “But they did all right without him, too. I think you understand their perspective but don’t necessarily think it’s a positive thing for college football. This is such a team sport. When you step back from that I know there are people here that I’ve talk to that that really bothers. It’s unfortunate, with one of those young players I happen to know the young man (McCaffrey) and I would never question his commitment to team and all that but other people will be.
“It’s something that these kids will have to weigh moving forward but I think it will effect football moving forward in years to come.’’
McCaffrey said teams have asked him during the combine interview process about skipping his bowl game. The Broncos included. He had his 15-minute visit Wednesday night with Bronco general manager John Elway, head coach Vance Joseph, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and running backs coach Eric Studesville.
“I just tell them how it is when they ask,’’ McCaffrey said. “I’m extremely honest with them and then we move on to now, playing football. …
“It was a career decision, it was a man decision to try to protect my dream of playing and succeeding in the NFL.’’
McCaffrey was more prepared for this combine than probably any other prospect. His dad, Ed McCaffrey, was a star Broncos receiver in the 1995-2003. Elway, Lynch and Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio would come over for dinner.
Ed had said the top two highlights of his career was one, when the Broncos beat Green Bay for their first Super Bowl title, and two, winning a Super Bowl again the next year, a moment accentuated when his two oldest sons, Max and Christian, were able to run on the Miami field and jump around in the confetti.
"I don't remember it, but there's a big picture in my house, I think it was in Sports Illustrated, I had a little blond afro and I was running on the field in my dad's jersey, it looked like a dress, when all of that was falling down,'' said Christian McCaffrey, who was 2 1/2 at the time.
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