“A dynamic player”: John Elway speaks on Christian McCaffrey’s NFL future

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INDIANAPOLIS — Let's do an exercise... Forget about the sieve of an offensive line the Denver Broncos have on their hands for a second—who would you like to see the team draft in the first round?

Good chance the name Christian McCaffrey came to your mind.

Now, of course, this is a flawed exercise because you read the headline and you knew exactly who I wanted you to think about, but aside from the fact that I control your mind, in a perfect world that would be a perfect story—the young McCaffrey follows in his father's footsteps, furthering the great McCaffrey legacy in Denver.

Maybe in that perfect world the Broncos sure up their line in free agency and suddenly potency and playmakers on the offensive side of the ball become a higher priority. Maybe the multiple-year Heisman candidate slips down the board and falls into the Broncos lap. Maybe the team interviews McCaffrey at the combine and absolutely falls in love with him.

That first domino had a chance to fall Wednesday as the Broncos met with the playmaking prospect as one of many interviews they will conduct at the NFL Scouting Combine.

One of the big questions surrounding McCaffrey is where he will fit into an NFL offense. Some have projected him as a thrid-down back, some have projected him as a slot receiver, the only thing that is certain is that he can play.

On Wednesday, Broncos vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway was asked where he thinks Christian will fit in.

"I think you know that answer," he said.

We don't.

"I think he's a dynamic player that can do it all," Elway added. "Wherever he goes, he's a guy that's going to be an impact player immediately."

Well, maybe that's your answer, he doesn't need to fit in anywhere because he fits in everywhere.

But does he fit in Denver? One outside concern is that following in his father's footsteps would bring added pressure to a player who is likely already going to have the weight of being a first-round pick on his shoulders. That concern stays on that outside.

"No. I don't think so," the GM said when posed the question about pressure on the young athlete. "Knowing what I know of Christian and how competitive he is, I think that he has a great deal of respect for his dad but he also looks at himself as he's going to blaze his own trail and the expectations that he has for himself are awful high."

"Absolutely not," added head coach Vance Joseph. "This kid is a really good football player. You watch the tape and he is a pro's pro. I'm excited to watch him this weekend, interview him tomorrow night."

Based on those comments, McCaffrey seems to fit the mold of the type of players Joseph is looking for at this combine.

"We want Bronco guys. We want guys who love to play. We want guys who are tough and engaged every day," he explained. "It's a tough league and you want players who want to play football every day and that's the biggest thing with young guys. It's a full-time job, it's no longer college, it's football all day, so you have to love it. You have to have the right personality to be an engaged player because if you're not engaged you can't play in this league."

That doesn't exactly match up with the narrative, though, that players who skipped their bowl games—like McCaffrey did—don't truly love the game.

"I understand it now," commented Elway, who—unlike some—seemed to have put real thought into the subject. "Obviously, when I thought about it the old school in me wanted to come out saying, 'Why would those guys not play? It's their last game,' but I'll tell you what, when you look at where the league is now and you talk about the value of these contracts for these players coming out and the risk that they're taking, the old, salty guy in me got flipped back to understanding why they didn't play.

A "pro's pro," a "competitor," ready to "blaze his own trail," and a defense of his perceived red flags, maybe that "perfect world" scenario is really in the cards. The ball gets rolling on Thursday as the scouting part of this combine truly gets underway.

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