Payton: McCaffrey would be like Reggie Bush, Sproles for Saints

Christian McCaffrey's versatility is an attractive asset for his NFL draft stock, but it also opens questions about what the former Stanford star running back's ideal role in the NFL might be. Is he big enough to be an every-down back? And if not, could he flourish as a slot receiver? New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has his answer.

"He's got the ability to make people miss, but also to make tough yards in the pile," Payton told MMQB. "I've got a crystal-clear vision of the player. He'd be like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush for us, kind of the Joker role. But I think you have to have a pitch count on him."

By pitch count, Payton means monitoring McCaffrey's touches to avoid excessive wear on his 5-foot-11, 202-pound frame. Bush played five years with the Saints from 2006-2010, seeing a lot of action as a receiver out of the backfield but never carried the ball more than 157 times in a season. Sproles followed Bush in the Saints' offense for the following three years (2011-2013) and had more receptions than rushes each year.

The Saints hold the No. 11 overall pick in the draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia), but it's no certainty that McCaffrey will be available to them. Executives from multiple NFL clubs told Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager they expect McCaffrey to be a top-10 selection, and NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah projects him as the No. 8 pick of the Carolina Panthers.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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