A closer look at Oakland Raiders UDFA wideout Max McCaffrey.
The Oakland Raiders are projected to enter the 2016 season with just four veteran receivers on their 53-man roster, and with general manager Reggie McKenzie deciding against adding a receiver in this year’s draft, undrafted free agents are expected to add depth to the position. Of the six rookie receivers currently competing to fill the back end of Oakland’s receiving corps, Max McCaffrey is one of the few pulling ahead of the pack.
McCaffrey, a three-year starter at Duke University, brought in 117 receptions for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in 53-career games (38 starters), per GoDuke.com. At 6’0”, 200 pounds, he impressed both NFL scouts and his family (father Ed McCaffrey and brother Christian McCaffrey) at Duke’s Pro Day in late March, as Max McCaffrey was clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Both Christian McCaffrey, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2015 with Stanford, and former Denver Broncos receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion Ed McCaffrey have proven to be successful in their football careers, which of course, has allowed Max McCaffrey to benefit from their relentless support.
“It was really cool—I know it’s hard for them to make it out at one time, they’re all really busy,” Max McCaffrey said, via Ryan Hoeger of The Chronicle: The Independent Daily at Duke University. “It means a lot to me that they could come out and support me today (at his Pro Day). [My dad] always claims he ran a faster time than I could, but I don’t know about that. They were doing the hand-times, starting and stopping.”
Despite having put up impressive numbers at his Pro Day and his star-studded bloodlines, Max McCaffrey watched 253 players get selected in the 2016 draft before realizing that his shot in the NFL would come as an undrafted free agent.
With that being said, both Ed McCaffrey and Broncos general manager John Elway made an effort to get him to sign in Denver, but Max McCaffrey ultimately turned down the Broncos’ offer in favor of taking on an opportunity with the Silver and Black.
“My dad, obviously, he played on the Denver Broncos for a while, so there was a little tension in the house,” Max McCaffrey said, via Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. “He was really proud of me, so it was just a great experience for everyone.”
Regardless of where his father’s loyalties lie, Max McCaffrey has a firm understanding of the opportunity he has with Derek Carr and the rest of Raiders’ youthful core of talented players, and because of that, he is willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to make his presence felt with Oakland.
“I’ll do anything,” McCaffrey said. “Ill go out there and play special teams. I’ll play receiver, make a catch when we need to, just go out there and give it my all, no matter what I’m doing. The game of football is not just the guys you see out there making catches, there’s a lot more to football and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to try to make this team.”
Though McCaffrey is practically willing to mow the grass for this Raiders team, he has a legitimate opportunity to earn a significant amount of reps at wide receiver for Oakland early in his career because of the lack of depth currently on the roster. Head coach Jack Del Rio assured the media during the second week of OTAs that there are opportunities for the UDFA receivers to find roles behind Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts, and Andre Holmes.
Roberts, a former UDFA out of West Alabama, has apparently reached out to him in an effort to ease his transition to the NFL, and in turn, McCaffrey has reportedly welcomed his support with open arms.
McCaffrey has been able to turn that added assistance into some special moments on the field, as he continued to catch the eyes of his coaches through both Rookie Minicamp and OTAs. According to Paskal, McCaffrey beat veteran cornerback Sean Smith on a slant route during Oakland’s second week of OTA’s in which he left Smith in his wake after creating early separation from the slot.
All three of the Raiders’ top receivers (Cooper, Crabtree, and Roberts) played in all 16 games last season, and though Del Rio and company would hope to stay healthy across the board, it’s important for both Carr’s development and the Raiders’ overall success that receivers are capable of stepping up barring any unfortunate circumstances. In that same breath, one of the UDFA receivers is going to have to meet those expectations; McCaffrey is both ready and willing to exceed expectations.