INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL Combine, shed to its essence, amounts to a job interview in a cool sweatsuit.
The 330 players arrive with dreams. Many leave with nerves and concerns. Christian McCaffrey stepped to the microphone Thursday and sold himself to 32 potential employers.
"I don't think there's anybody else that can do all the things I can," said McCaffrey, who measured 5-foot-11 and 202 pounds, "as far as how I run between the tackles, outside, pass protect, play slot (receiver) and do a lot of stuff in the return game. I think that's what sets me apart."
Two things distinguish McCaffrey. His versatility and his conviction. After rushing for more than 3,600 yards over his final two college seasons, McCaffrey sat out Stanford's bowl game. He received support of his coach David Shaw and teammates. However, he had to explain his decision to NFL executives, wondering why he would bypass his last college game. Broncos general manager John Elway warmed to the decision after analyzing the risks and rewards of the modern player. San Francisco GM John Lynch would have preferred McCaffrey play.
McCaffrey addressed the question Thursday, then elected to move on.
"I just tell them how it is when they ask and I am extremely honest with them," McCaffrey said.
Considered the third best back available behind LSU's Leonard Fournette and Florida State's Dalvin Cook, McCaffrey remains hard to typecast. He worked as a bellcow at Stanford, but it hardly illuminated his value. He proved a wrecking ball as a receiver and return man. It is that varied skill set that creates an argument for the Broncos selecting him with the 20th overall pick. Denver interviewed McCaffrey on Wednesday. Having grown up around the team watching his father Ed, it was a cool experience.
"It was awesome," McCaffrey said. "These are guys that my dad played with, guys that I have been around my entire life."
McCaffrey also knows Oakland coach Jack Del Rio well. He played with Del Rio's son at Luke, winning state championships at Valor Christian High School. It was there McCaffrey established himself as one of the greatest prep stars in Colorado history.
"First of all Christian is an amazing young man," Del Rio said. "I heard the people question whether he'd be able to go from the high school level to the college level and now the questions come out, 'Can he go from the college game to the pros?' I think you're going to see the same thing. This is a great football player, and I think he will have an impact in this league."
McCaffrey missed time last season because of a hip issue. His toughness has never been questioned. But speed matters. And if McCaffrey can flash on the 40 with a time under 4.5 it will only mute more doubters.
"I play with a chip on my shoulder always," McCaffrey said. "I feel like a lot of people don't give me credit for my skills and talents. That's just the way it is. I don't care too much. I am constantly trying to prove myself."