For the third straight game this preseason, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey operated as a pure “Bell Cow” RB. McCaffrey logged 10 carries in the first quarter alone, and finished the night with 12 carries for 48 yards, in addition to 2 receptions for 16. He received a GL carry and converted, which was overturned on a hold. On the preseason, McCaffrey has played on 59-of-66 first team snaps (89%), as compared to 7-of-66 for CJ Anderson. (11%)
This includes every inside-10 snap, and confirms what was abundantly clear: McCaffrey will be a true workhorse in 2018. In roughly 2.5 quarters of action, McCaffrey finishes the preseason with 221 total yards (151 rushing), 2 TDs, and 21 touches (8 catches). Simply put, after being labeled calling “Overpriced” in our Preseason Kickoff Guide, McCaffrey’s far-and-away the biggest riser of this Preseason, now landing in the First Round (12th overall) of my latest Big Board.
After touching the ball only 12.3 times per game as a rookie, McCaffrey seems likely to double this total in his sophomore campaign, particularly as a rusher (only 117 carries last year). OC Norv Turner has a long history of riding a bell-cow, and called it “realistic” for McCaffrey to receive 25-30 touches a game — something HC Ron Rivera called “ideal.” Turner fed a similarly built 5’10, 220 lb LaDainian Tomlinson enormous workloads, and McCaffrey reportedly added 8-10 lbs of muscle this offseason in anticipation of more volume. Though this massive volume spike once seemed laughable, the preseason rates strongly suggest this will continue all year.
With immense “Individual Talent” and quality “Usage” in his favor, McCaffrey seems bound to explode. His line has been decimated with injury, and he is a bit small for this type of Bell Cow treatment. Still, McCaffrey was a true horse at Stanford and held up perfectly to massive usage, and Turner will be able to constantly get McCaffrey into space. Along with Jordan Howard, McCaffrey’s a Round 2 RB that seems bound to yield First Round value.