by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Underdog Dynasty.
The NFL Draft talk never ends and we here at Draft 412 will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024 we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Rice, Wide Receiver, Luke McCaffrey
Name- Luke McCaffrey
HT/WT- 6’2” 198 lbs.
Home – Highlands Ranch, CO
McCaffrey grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and attended Valor Christian High School. He led Valor to a 14-0 record and a class 5A championship, throwing for 2,202 yards with 21 touchdowns as the team's quarterback. He also rushed for 526 yards and 8 touchdowns. According to 247Sports, McCaffrey was the No. 1 player in Colorado, and the No. 11 athlete in the country. He chose Nebraska over offers from Colorado, Michigan , Ohio State, Washington, and UCLA.
His father Ed McCaffrey was his head coach at Valor Christian and played in the NFL as a wide receiver for the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. His older brother Christian McCaffrey currently plays running back for the San Francisco 49ers and is one of the best running backs in the NFL.
In 2019 for the Cornhuskers, he played in 4 games, preserving his redshirt. He completed 9-12 passes for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns, while running 166 yards on 24 carries. McCaffrey showed how much of a versatile offensive weapon he is in 2020 playing 7 of the 8 games, including 2 starts at quarterback. He completed 48 of 76 passes for 466 yards and 1 touchdown while rushing the ball 65 times for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns.
After the 2020 season, McCaffrey entered the transfer portal and originally transferred to Louisville but left several months later after, not getting a chance to play quarterback for the Cardinals. He transferred to Rice and in his first year, played sparingly at quarterback. He finished his first season with the Owls throwing for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns and adding 132 yards on the ground with 2 more scores. McCaffrey moved to wide receiver during the spring practices and has taken off ever since. He was named team MVP in 2022, hauling in 58 receptions for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also led the team with 903 total yards in his first ever as a wide receiver. McCaffrey earned consensus All-AAC honors during a stellar 2023 campaign when he led the conference and was 7th in the nation with 12 touchdown receptions. His 68 receptions were 4th in the conference and his 963 yards were 5th.
Luke McCaffrey is a weapon. He has excellent vision and runs hard. He is a quick twitch route runner and is almost impossible to mirror out of the slot. He has enough straight line speed to take routes to the 2nd and 3rd level. McCaffrey has reliable hands and does not shy away from making catches over the middle and can take a hit to make a catch. As he grows as a receiver, he has shown the ability to line up wide and take the cover off of defenses with his speed. Quarterbacks will like McCaffrey’s catch radius and he is an all-around weapon who can be used in several different ways. If he gets matched up with a creative offensive coordinator the sky's the limit with what he can do.
However, he is still on the raw side as a receiver and will need to shore up his footwork and understanding of the position. McCaffrey does not add much to the run game with his blocking ability and may be slotted as a receiver who only plays on passing downs. He can get lazy with his hands and lets the ball get into his body at times, causing drops or double touches. He seems to be comfortable with man-to-man coverages but lacks an understanding of where he needs to be in zone coverage. He can get too cute after a catch and instead of turning up the field, he will go east and west to try and make something happen when there is nothing there.
Seeing Luke McCaffrey run routes, Draft Nation can’t help but see some Adam Thielen in his play. Thielen went undrafted out of Minnesota State in 2013 but has since made an unbelievable career for himself. McCaffrey will be used more as a runner and other gadget type plays than Thielen, but once he learns the position, Draft Nation sees McCaffrey having a long and productive career.
Vision, yards after catch
With the last name "McCaffrey", it will be hard for teams in the middle rounds to look the other way. He can be used in so many different roles and line up all over the field. He has the capability to become a solid starting wide receiver once he gets more reps at the position.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 4th round or 5th round