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Horse Tracks: Five reasons why the Patriots aren't allowed to draft Christian McCaffrey

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Hands off, New England. Denver saw him first.

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey, the Stanford running back who is a Heisman finalist, seems to have the potential to become the next Darren Sproles or even Wes Welker (he may transition to receiver in the NFL). He has a unique and diverse skill set, but he's not draft eligible until 2017.

Still, we're football fans, so we're allowed to get ahead of ourselves.

Many have already made a connection between McCaffrey and the Patriots (including this guythis guythis guythis guythis guy, and countless others). Even Stanford's coaching staff has acknowledged it.

"I could see the Patriots taking him and making him the next Wes Welker or Julian Edelman. He can run a million option routes," Stanford running backs coach Lance Taylor told the New York Post in November.

Everyone needs to hold their horses—he's not a Patriot yet.

In fact, New England shouldn't even be allowed to draft him, for five reasons:

1. They don't have exclusive rights to "undersized, speedy white guys"

Look, the Patriots may have made the likes of Welker, Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Danny Woodhead household names, but that doesn't mean they get first dibs on future prospects. Sharing is caring, New England. It's time to share.

2. John Elway's Stanford connection should count for something

Guys, John Elway went to Stanford. Christian McCaffrey went to Stanford. John Elway is Stanford. Doesn't that count for anything? The school retired Elway's jersey number—have they retired Bill Belichick's jersey number? No. Bill Belichick didn't even go to Stanford, silly.

3. The Broncos saw him first

When McCaffrey broke Barry Sander's single-season all-purpose yardage record and led Stanford to a Pac-12 title, Elway saw it in person (he was being honored for recently being named to the Pac-12's All-Century team and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Century). Was Bill Belichick at the game? No. Bill wasn't even named to Pac-12's All-Century team.

4. His dad, Ed McCaffrey, played for the Broncos

Remember Ed McCaffrey? The three-time Super Bowl champion that made a Pro Bowl and AP All-Pro team while with the Broncos is Christian's father. Is Bill Belichick his father? No. Belichick's sons play lacrosse.

5. McCaffrey is from Denver and he likes the Broncos

Christian grew up in Colorado. He won multiple high school state championships, breaking Colorado records for touchdowns (141) and career all-purpose yards (8,845), among others. Football's a big deal in his home state, and the Broncos are the team to root for. That, coupled with the fact that is dad is, you know, Ed McCaffrey, obviously makes him a Broncos fan.

Has McCaffrey tweeted in excitement after a Patriots win? No. In fact, the above tweet came after Denver beat New England. He probably hates Bill.

On a more serious note . . .

McCaffrey's draft stock is probably being a little overblown. I've seen people remark on Twitter that he wouldn't fall far enough in the draft for Denver to draft him. In reality, he probably won't be a first round pick.

Running backs rarely go in the first round, anyway, and by 2017 (or '18) he'll probably be considered a receiver prospect. He doesn't have Percy Harvin or DeSean Jackson speed, and even if he stays a running back, he won't be able to hold up as an every down back.

The best comparison may be San Diego's Woodhead, who has excellent receiving skills. That may not be a fair comparison—McCaffrey obviously has huge upside—but it's hard to see him as much more than a third round prospect, perhaps late second at best.

Denver will probably have a chance to draft him.

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