Christian McCaffrey seems to be a perfect fit for the Giants. He’d add spark to two aspects of their game that lacked production last season — offense and special teams — and would be the most versatile player they have had since Tiki Barber. He even has a family history with the team: his father, Ed, was drafted by the Giants as a wide receiver in the third round in 1991.
If the Giants want him, though, they’ll have to go get him.
McCaffrey most likely will not be there for the 23rd pick in the draft, the one the Giants currently hold. That means doing something they have not done since Jerry Reese took over as general manager in 2007 and something they have not dabbled in since they wound up with Eli Manning in the 2004 draft: a first-round trade.
How open are they to such an investment? Quite, it turns out.
“If we have an opportunity to trade in the first round, we will do that,” Reese said last week. “If we feel like we want to move up to get somebody, then we will move.”
McCaffrey figures to go in the top 15 picks, maybe even the top 10. The red light for the Giants will go off if running back Leonard Fournette from LSU comes off the board. McCaffrey figures to be the next running back taken at that point. If the Giants want to be the team that takes him, they’ll have to pounce.
The Giants were burned in recent years by staying put. In 2012 the Bucs traded right in front of them to snap up running back Doug Martin, leaving the Giants to take another back, David Wilson, with the next pick. In 2015 they liked Brandon Scherff, who went to Washington four picks ahead of them, and they took tackle Ereck Flowers. Last year the Titans traded two spots ahead of them to get offensive lineman Jack Conklin and the Bears slipped in one spot ahead of them to grab defensive end Leonard Floyd. The Giants took Eli Apple at 10.
“We liked all the players that got picked in front of us last year,” Reese said. “There were a lot of guys we liked in front of us. So are you going to move up every time just because you like somebody?”
No. But maybe this is the time.
“If there is someone up there that we love, that we have to have and we are dying for and we are willing to give up our draft picks to move up to get him, then we are open to doing that,” Reese said.
McCaffrey could be that kind of player. And whoever gets him will get more than just a running back.
Mike Mayock, draft analyst for NFL Network, noted that at the Combine after running back drills were completed, the coaches asked a few players to stay on the field to run routes out of the slot.
“He ran the slot routes maybe better than any slot wide receiver had run them at the Combine this year,” Mayock said. “It blew people away. Then they sent the other guys in, and he stood out and returned punts. He looked like a natural punt returner. So his label is running back, but the fact that he could line up in the slot or out wide or run routes from the running back position, all that does is help him.”
And it would give Ben McAdoo a chance to get creative. Imagine an offense that at times could have Odell Beckham Jr. lined up in the backfield and McCaffrey lined up as a receiver. Imagine being able to put McCaffrey in the backfield and not tipping off a defense as to whether a run or a pass is forthcoming.
Imagine Manning’s smile if the Giants can pull this off. It might be bigger than the last time the Giants made a first-round trade and got him out of San Diego.
“I think, more than anything, you need a playmaker,” Mayock said about the Giants. “I don’t care whether you call them tight ends, running backs, whatever. You need a playmaker.”
McCaffrey fits all of that.
It’s just a matter of how badly the Giants want him.
An all-in-one back who can help in many areas on the field . . . In 2015 he set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards (2,019 rushing yards, which were second-most in the FBS, along with 645 receiving and 1,200 on kickoff and punt returns) . . . Great hands out of the backfield and even from the slot . . . For a guy with average size, weight and speed, he makes big plays happen with quickness, suddenness and intelligence . . . Had four career fumbles in 823 touches . . . Father, Ed, was a 13-year NFL receiver and 1991 third-round pick of the Giants; mother Lisa played soccer at Stanford and grandfather David Sime was an Olympic sprinter.