It’s a golden age for NFL running backs.
The league is stockpiled with talent at the position, as seemingly every game features at least one stud in the offensive backfield. Christian McCaffrey is one of the young stars leading the way, as the Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back totaled 1,965 yards from scrimmage in 2018, third-most in the NFL.
The scary part is C-Mac’s getting even better. McCaffrey recently told STACK that his unique offseason regimen has him feeling “the best (he’s) ever felt,” citing enhanced speed and explosiveness. Fastidious film study also plays a key role in his preparation, as he studies other NFL running backs.
“I watch just about every back in the league. I’ve seen pretty much just about every play from all of them. And I enjoy watching them,” McCaffrey says. “I would say specifically though, a lot of times (who I watch closest) depends on who we’re playing. If we’re playing Tampa, I watch Alvin Kamara against Tampa. He’s a very similar back to me in terms of his dynamic playmaking ability and being able to do multiple things. So I’ll see how Tampa plays Alvin Kamara. I’ll study that and kinda figure it might be the same (for how they’ll play me).”
Since he’s just as much a threat in the passing game as he is as a runner, he’ll also watch some of the league’s top receivers in search of valuable intel. “If we have a specific play that I’m running that we took from Minnesota, then I’ll watch how Stefon Diggs ran that route,” McCaffrey says.
When it comes to the film he most enjoys breaking down, he cites Kamara and Saquon Barkley as being his two favorites. The versatile backs both play a major role in their team’s passing attacks, as does McCaffrey, so there are natural similarities. McCaffrey’s 107 receptions led all NFL running backs in 2018, while Barkley’s 91 and Kamara’s 81 ranked second and fourth, respectively. McCaffrey enjoys watching them not only for their jaw-dropping feats of athleticism, but to also gain insights into how opponents are trying to contain them.
“I really enjoy watching Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley, those are two that I enjoy watching who I think are pretty at an elite level. Obviously I watch a lot of Todd Gurley, I’ve seen Zeke run, Melvin Gordon, all these guys around the league—there’s a lot of really good ones. You never run out of film when it comes to watching backs in the league right now,” McCaffrey says.
Photo Credit: Melissa Melvin-Rodrigue/Panthers.com