Becoming an NFL player is one of those dreams little kids have right alongside “astronaut” and “ballerina.” Except making it to the NFL is even harder than being sent out into space.
Of the roughly 1,085,272 athletes who play high school football across the nation, 6 percent make it to the collegiate level. Of those who play in college, 1.7 percent make it to the league. That means only .08 percent of current high school footbal players will get the chance to play in the the NFL.
Over the weekend, 330 athletes came to strut their skills at the 2017 NFL Combine. But only 256 players will be drafted by the 32 NFL teams on April 27.
Eight players from Colorado were lucky enough to score an invite to this year’s combine, hoping for a chance to catch the eye of an NFL scout. This includes Jalen Robinette, the Air Force wide receiver; Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau and his teammates Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon, and safety Tedric Thompson. Their in-state rival Colorado State had two players as well: linebacker Kevin Davis and punter Hayden Hunt.
The most impressive prospect by far however, is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, who wowed scouts and teammates alike during his time at Valor Christian.
He impressed scouts with a 4.48 40-yard dash time — tied for fourth among running backs — and was a top-five perfomer in the vertical jump, 3-cone shuffle (best time), 20-yard shuttle and the 60-yard shuttle (best time).
At 5’11” and 202 pounds, some say McCaffrey is not quite big enough to be an every-down back, but the majority consensus is that the son of Broncos great Ed McCaffrey will follow in his father’s footsteps.
McCaffrey’s college stats (6,987 all-purpose yards, 33 touchdowns), particularly in his sophomore season at Stanford were enough to put him in the Heisman Trophy conversation, with many believing he deserved the honor over Alabama’s Derrick Henry (now on the Tennessee Titans).
He declared for the draft after his junior season where he battled injury, and still racked up 1,613 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round.
For teams looking for an all-purpose player, McCaffrey is as good as it gets. He has reliable hands, runs good routes, was used as a punt and kick returner at Stanford and knows how to run behind his tackles.
Whether he goes in the first, second or even third round, McCaffrey is pretty much guaranteed a slot on an NFL roster this year. An accomplishment that carries a bit more weight when you consider he was one of the .08 percent who would make it during the days he played at Valor Christian. Best of luck to McCaffrey and his fellow Coloradans who are in the midst of making their childhood dreams come true.