An NFC personnel executive made a bold claim surrounding Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey ahead of the 2022 season.
All the talk has been centered on Baker Mayfield leading up to Week 1, which is understandable considering his competitive debut is against the team that traded him this offseason. However, the Carolina Panthers are counting on Christian McCaffrey just as much on Sunday and as the campaign goes on.
McCaffrey is an elite talent. The running back’s explosiveness and ability to pick this team up during tough times has been evident on countless occasions since the Panthers took him at No. 8 overall, but some significant injury worries over the last two seasons have been disastrous to head coach Matt Rhule’s hopes of turning this struggling franchise around.
After featuring in 10 games out of a possible 33, something has to give for McCaffrey. Although the Panthers are hinting that nothing much will change regarding how the Stanford product is utilized from week to week.
That might be asking or trouble. Especially if the Panthers don’t come up with a sufficient game plan in the event McCaffrey does miss time at any stage.
However, should McCaffrey suffer no further complications on the health front, it could be the spark that ignites Carolina with Mayfield alongside him in the backfield.
Christian McCaffrey tipped to win multiple awards in 2022
Matt Lombardo from Heavy.com spoke to coaches and front office figures from across the league regarding their preseason predictions. One NFC personnel executive went out of his way to make the boldest of claims regarding McCaffrey, outlining his potential to win both the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and NFL MVP this season.
"“I think Christian McCaffrey has the chance to win the MVP and the Comeback Player of The Year. If he stays healthy, he has a chance to lead all running backs in the NFL in rushing and receiving. Which is very unique. If they make a run, he’s going to be in the conversation.”"
This would be nothing short of remarkable if it came to fruition. Even if it does represent a significant long shot given the Panthers’ overall hopes and the fact league MVP is normally reserved for the best-performing quarterback these days.
McCaffrey leading the charge for a full 17 games would break a concerning recent trend. It could also provide the Panthers with enough quality to make a surprise wildcard run if Mayfield and others live up to their end of the bargain.
Having McCaffrey healthy and commanding substantial attention from opposing defenses completely shifts the landscape for Carolina. But the jury is still out as to whether or not he can put a consistent run of games together based on recent evidence.
The Panthers need McCaffrey.
The player also needs to remind people exactly who he is.
This might be the perfect recipe for the upcoming campaign. And who knows, it could lead McCaffrey to some individual accolades if Carolina far exceeds expectations in 2022.