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Woody Paige: Christian McCaffrey makes sense for Denver Broncos

April 9, 2017 Updated: April 10, 2017 at 6:27 am
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Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Dave Logan, Broncos' play-by-play announcer: "Oh, my goodness. Christian McCaffrey has just scored on an amazing 67-yard run to win the game. What an incredible young man, Ed!''

Ed McCaffrey, Broncos analyst: "Yes, I know.''

Christian McCaffrey soon will make an "official" pre-draft visit to Dove Valley.

He will have to travel all the way from the family home in Castle Pines for 10 minutes on Interstate 25 and take the Arapahoe exit east. Christian won't need GPS. He has been to the Broncos' headquarters so many times. Christian might be able to find Mile High Stadium, too, because he did play on the field twice in state high school championship victories, and he was a fan there for dozens of games as a kid.

Christian was born in June 1996, months after his dad Ed had finished his first season as a wide receiver for the Broncos. The young McCaffrey was too young to appreciate the Broncos' first Super Bowl victory at the end of the 1997 season.

But evidence proves that, at 2½, Christian understood the second one in south Florida when his father caught five passes for 72 yards. A photo shows the curly-haired blond boy, wearing an authentic No. 87 blue Broncos jersey that hung below his knees, and his older brother Max (who is a Packers' receiver) romping amid the confetti in the middle of the field during the Super Bowl celebration.

Christian knows Broncos, and John Elway certainly knows Christian. The Broncos' executive vice president threw "Ed-dee" 29 touchdown passes during the four seasons they played together before the quarterback retired. The elder McCaffrey spent nine years with the Broncos until quitting after the 2003 season.

Easy Ed now is one of the Broncos' voices. It would be fascinating (and perhaps uncomfortable) if he were to analyze his son's play for the Broncos. (Bob Griese broadcast games when son Brian was quarterback.)

For months I've strongly recommended that the Broncos draft Christian (a Christian).

We all love feel-good schoolboy hometown hero stories. Kyle Freeland, for instance, on Friday.

However, there can be consequences. The last time the Broncos drafted a local lad in the first round was 1970 when Boulder-born, University of Colorado quarterback-running back Bobby Anderson was selected 11th overall. In only four seasons with the Broncos, Bobby suffered four injuries limiting him to 1,218 yards rushing.

John Burke, a Cherry Creek High graduate, was the Rockies' first-ever draft pick in 1992 (27th overall). As a starting pitcher for the Rox in 1996-97, he compiled a 4-6 record with a 6.75 ERA.

McCaffrey was Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2015 (3,864 all-purpose yards) and fell to ninth the past season after his yardage dropped to 2,327 because of injuries and an average Stanford team.

The three-tool player (running back, receiver, returner) was the most impressive (and fastest) running back at the NFL combine, and he enthralled scouts as a receiver at his college's Pro Day.

The Broncos certainly have high interest in McCaffrey. They interviewed him at the combine and are bringing him in for a Day at The Dove. They could utilize a Swiss Army Knife - a receiver out of the backfield and from the slot, a change-of-gear runner, and a special punt and kickoff guy.

Yet, two problems persist. McCaffrey could be taken before the Broncos' 20th spot. Carolina, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington own picks before the Broncos, although the 49ers or the Panthers won't choose him at Nos. 2 or 8. The Raiders definitely are tracking McCaffrey at 24. Jack Del Rio has drooled over Christian since he played with the coach's son Luke at Valor Christian. John surely wouldn't want Jack, Christian and the Raiders to return back to burn the Broncos.

And the Broncos do have other serious needs - at left tackle, defensive tackle and end, and at tight end.

By my latest count, 53 draft-eligible players have been interviewed by the Broncos at the combine and bowl games, invited to Denver and/or had personal contact with the team. The most attention has been placed on those four areas of concern (nine running backs, seven tight ends, eight offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen).

The closest to the Broncos, though, in family and fan history, local lore and love, talent possibilities and proximity, is Christian McCaffrey.