Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain,
DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall, OT Joel Honigford, OT Andrew Stueber, OT Chuck Filiaga, WR Oliver Martin, WR Nico Collins, WR Tarik Black, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, FB Ben Mason, RB O'Maury Samuels, RB Kurt Taylor.
|Littleton, CO – 6'5", 210|
|Scout||4*, #134 overall
|Rivals||4*, #131 overall
#7 PROQB, #1 CO
|ESPN||4*, #117 overall
#6 PROQB, #1 CO
|24/7||4*, #204 overall
#6 PROQB, #3 CO
|Other Suitors||UCLA, LSU, Neb, Washington, Stanford|
|YMRMFSPA||Also Andrew Luck because he's Brandon Peters 2|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Related to some guys.|
Brief senior reel:
Yes, that McCaffrey. This one, Dylan McCaffrey, is a quarterback with a prototypical frame and a long way to go to maximize it. In most other ways he's as far along as anyone else in his class.
He sounds like a McCaffrey, basically. He's taken full advantage of his athletic legacy and arrives in college a technically advanced player. ESPN notes that he plays in a "multiple I-formation" offense with a lot of play action and timing routes—i.e., a high school manball offense. While this may be a bit exaggerated based on his highlights, there are some snaps from under center. He's "the rare QB who can go under center and take a drop," per Scout, and he performs in that context:
prototypical size … very lanky. … very polished player. …nice feel for where to go with the ball pre-snap. … Play-pass ball handling and quickness in his set-up is as good as any in the class. …calm, shows balance and good movement skills in the pocket to work through reads and deliver the football. Very heady and does a great job with feet and eyes under duress. … Anticipation and ability to throw guys open is very impressive. …very impressive tools and footwork … adequate-to-good arm strength and when sound with his footwork can make just about every throw. Compensates with timing and pacing with his feet, drops and delivery. …still blooming and has a high ceiling … will get stronger and thus be able to make deeper throws at the next level.
McCaffrey draw praise for his polish and general McCaffrey-ness in just about every evaluation. Clint Brewster:
…really sees the entire field. McCaffrey makes decisions that put his team in position to win. He is a smart player and really dissects coverage well, with precision accuracy and decisiveness. He makes a ton of advanced level throws and reads on film and can really pick you apart with his arm. His mobility is just the icing on the cake.
McCaffrey's mechanics in the pocket are very polished, especially for a player with his type of upside and mobility. His pocket presence and footwork really set him apart from others in the class.
tremendous upside. … 6-5 but can move around in the pocket and has no problem escaping pressure and either making a throw down the field or running … can throw with heat or with touch, is accurate to all three levels of the field and shows poise and a calmness in the pocket beyond his years. … extremely bright quarterback with a high football IQ. … checks off every box you could want in a next-level quarterback. He has not only the physical tools but more importantly, the makeup required to lead a big-time program.
There are some disagreements about his physical abilities right now. McCaffrey does not have a Mallett/Morris cannon. Arm strength takes range from the generally positive ("velocity is already above average; McCaffrey can zip passes into tight windows with confidence") to the middling ("good arm, not a great arm"; "won't necessarily wow anyone with elite arm strength").
McCaffrey's motion produces similar disagreements. Drevno asserts that he "loves the way he throws the ball … he's got a quick release"; ND's 24/7 site praised his "clean, compact motion" and footwork. On the other hand, when 24/7 started moving him down from his near five-star status after the Elite 11 Barton Simmons said he "has a glaring technical flaw he needs to clean up," without any explanation as to what exactly that was. Rivals mostly talked about his option game in a post where they explained a move down; the scouting report sounds like a different player entirely:
McCaffrey was impressive in operating the option read in the game we attended earlier this season, tucking the ball when he could and making plays with his feet, but he struggled a bit throwing down field. He certainly has the athleticism and awareness that makes him a terrific game manager at this stage in his development, but he should probably be lower in the rankings until he proves he can be a top-flight passer.
Their take was very much an outlier, though Brandon Brown did note his "passing motion can look slow and deliberate."
This space is usually dubious about "intangibles" since they're typically nonsense feelingsball, but we'll make an exception for quarterback recruits since there are some actual attributes that get shoved in there. QBs can get shook in a way that doesn't really happen to running backs or wide receivers or anyone else who doesn't have to stand still and hope that a 270-pound man isn't about to barrel into his back. The ability to keep calm and carry on reading defenses, especially on the road, is a real skill. I'll also admit that I believe that QB leadership can have a tangible on-field impact. So too the invisible stuff that happens before the snap. Organization is a real QB skill.
So. One thing that the above scouting reports touch on are those intangibles, which McCaffrey appears to have in spades. Scout gave him a 10 in that department:
…pure pocket passer with good athleticism and a great feel for the game …very good footwork and poise. He's a natural leader with the arm strength needed to make all the throws and is able to escape pressure and make a play with his legs.
Tyler Donohue had an extensive McCaffrey breakdown with a detailed section on the brain stuff McCaffrey has going for him:
Family lineage and elevated football intelligence make Dylan McCaffrey one of the country's most compelling quarterback prospects. … Impressive mental aptitude in terms of digesting a complicated playbook; excelled in this facet at the Elite 11 Finals. A competitive athlete who commands his offensive huddle with authority. Selected by Elite 11 counselors as finalist with the strongest leadership attributes. Mental intangibles and potential for physical growth create high-ceiling projection. …presents the playbook diligence and mental fortitude coaches covet. His personality, athleticism and smarts suggest he'll be ready to follow family footsteps toward stardom when opportunities arrive in Ann Arbor.
And his high school coach provided some details on the way McCaffrey's abilities were already paying off for his team:
“…he got us into the right play so much with kills and alerts at the line of scrimmage, that really allowed us to be in the right play against the defense we wanted to run it against."
An early ESPN article on their then-junior 300 emphasized this aspect of his game as well:
"…this kid will be offered by every program that is taking the pro-style, multiple approach that requires a great deal of the quarterback at the line of scrimmage and to run the offense -- both in the run and pass game."
Simmons summed it up well: "the way he processes what's in front of him is elite."
A couple of those scouting reports mention McCaffrey's ability to move, which is significant. Rivals actually had him listed as a dual-threat QB for most of the cycle, and in crunch time last season his team started relying on his legs more than any other in their possession. His high school coach:
“Especially in the playoffs, we relied a little bit more on his legs: he ended up being our leading rusher. He was able to get us 3-5 first downs a game with his legs in addition to what he could do with his arm."
In addition to completing two-thirds of his passes for nearly ten yards a pop, McCaffrey rushed for around 600 yards with ten touchdowns and even caught three passes. Other scouting reports that touched on his athleticism call him "very athletic," "mobile but a pure pocket passer," and the like.
Harbaugh himself said he's "very athletic and he's going to be able to move." With Brandon Peters possessing approximately the same level of mobility, Michigan's going to be able to design their offense with a half-dozen or so QB carries in mind no matter who emerges in a post-Speight world.
Speaking of, if all of this sounds barely distinguishable from Peters, yep. 24/7 called him another version of Peters, one "maybe even more talented," when he committed. A different analyst followed that up when they saw him at the Elite 11:
"a lot of similarities between McCaffrey and Brandon Peters. …similar calm to his game and seems to play without panic … really high release point … unorthodox route to get there. … just a guy that has a maturity about him."
At the level of specificity this series aspires to these guys are almost the same prospect.
They ended up at the same point in the rankings, eventually, but at one point McCaffrey was ranked the top QB on the composite not because any one scouting service was particularly high on him but because all four thought he was a top-50-ish prospect. He steadily dropped over the course of the cycle. His most precipitous drop came after the Army game. He was busy attending that award ceremony where he zinged his parents on the first day, and when he arrived he was naturally behind the other guys in attendance:
…looked a little out of sync … was late on some throws but he certainly flashed that major potential as well with some nice throws while also displaying he can be an RPO threat in Ann Arbor getting loose in practice with his legs as well.
…struggled a bit on the first day, never really settling into a rhythm with his receivers.
He would settle in as the week went on, but criticism continued. Some of it gives off a whiff of Wormley Derangement Syndrome wherein a recruiting guy is talking about putting together a high school all star team instead of projecting to the next level:
… showed the most poise and accuracy but lacked the arm strength to make deep and tight throws.
McCaffrey is 6'5" and probably 30 pounds from the finished product. The arm strength will come. You can't make the same assertions about fireballers without any vision.
The resulting drop was dramatic. 247 slid him almost 150 spots, and McCaffrey went from 51st in the composite to 123rd. And that's fine. If it's me, I'm not looking at a guy named McCaffrey who's going to play QB for Jim Harbaugh and knocking him down the list based on this amount of data…
only got to lead the West offense twice in a scrimmage format, he threw a bad interception in one of them … being looked at based on (literally) a handful of throws
…mostly because he's not as far along physically as some other guys in his class.
Etc.: My man:
“It was Denard Robinson," he said. "I loved watching him! They were definitely tough to beat. I laid out all the options, so I really did look at all the schools that I was interested in. It just so happened that they fit me best."
There have been some doozies but this is the saddest MSU recruiting article of the cycle:
MSU DB target Cumber beats Michigan QB commit McCaffery
Cumber committed to Colorado State.
Why Also Andrew Luck? He's the same recruit as Brandon Peters so he gets the same comparison. Luck is a pocket passer with plus athleticism who was ranked in about the same range coming out of high school.
Guru Reliability: High. Heavily scouted QB, All Star and Opening appearances. More or less total agreement rankings-wise, but some scouting wobbles.
Variance: Moderate. Competition level and tendency to drop when put in those All Star appearances do give some pause, as does a certain amount of projection needed to get him to 230 and assimilate increased arm strength into his repertoire.
Ceiling: Vast. 6'5" guy with some wheels and an advanced ability to process information. McCaffrey's top end is bonkers.
General Excitement Level: Very high. I mean… McCaffrey QB coached by Harbaugh seems pretty all right.
Projection: Harbaugh QB means redshirt, especially when there are three guys in front of him. Assuming Speight maintains the job McCaffrey will be in a three-way competition for the job with Peters and Joe Milton in 2019. That competition could come a year early if Speight takes off and heads to the NFL.