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Is Christian McCaffrey The Next Barry Sanders?

Who is Barry Sanders?

Christian McCaffrey can be the next Barry Sanders. Sanders is the former running back for the Detroit Lions for 1989-1998. Arguably one of the best running backs to ever play in the NFL who retired too soon. Sanders was a former 3rd overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft after playing 3 years at Oklahoma State University. After not starting the first 2 seasons at Oklahoma State, being primarily a punt and kick off return man, Sanders won the Heisman Trophy as a Junior in 1988. During his first year as a starter, Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards averaging 7.6 yards per rushing attempt with 37 touchdowns. All those stats, only in 11 games.

Barry Sanders NFL Achievements


With only 10 seasons in the NFL, Sanders had the opportunity to become the greatest running back to ever play the game before retiring suddenly. The reason for the surprise retirement, Sanders had said he had more of a desire to be away from the game than to return to the game. In his 10 seasons, Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and a total of 18,190 yards from scrimmage. With a total of 109 total touchdowns in his NFL career. The highlight season for Sanders was the 1997 season where he ended with 2,053 yards rushing, becoming the third running back ever to accomplish the achievement at the time.

In his rookie season, Sanders was voted as a First-Team All-Pro and voted to the Pro Bowl. All 10 seasons of Sanders career, he was voted to the Pro Bowl. Sanders also had 6 First-Team All-Pro selections. When retiring, at 15,269 yards rushing, Sanders finished second all-time. Over the years only 2 players have surpassed Sanders, who now ranks 4th all-time still.

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Christian McCaffrey the next Carolina Panthers star

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is now a star in the NFL. After being picked 8th overall by the Panthers in the 2017 NFL Draft, McCaffrey had a slow start to his career. Starting his career out as the second running back for the Panthers behind former Panthers great, Jonathan Stewart. For his rookie season, McCaffrey only rushed for 435 yards and 1,086 yards from scrimmage. His second season, McCaffrey was a full-time starter, finishing the season with 1,098 rushing yards, 1,965 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

In the most recent season, the Panthers star running back had a huge season. Ending the season with his first pro bowl vote in, as well as being voted as a First-Team All-Pro. In this spectacular season, McCaffrey ended with 2,392 total yards from scrimmage, 19 touchdowns, and only 1 fumble. Rushing for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also receiving for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns. Becoming only the third player in NFL history to accomplish the achievement of 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.


How is Christian McCaffrey comparable to Barry Sanders?

The 2 running backs have very similar playing styles. McCaffrey and Sanders are both very elusive and agile runners. Can make you miss with quick subtle moves. Typically making the first man miss and very difficult to tackle in the open space. Neither player typically decide to truck and run over defenders. As well as their playing styles, their stats through the first 3 seasons of their respected careers are very similar.

After the first 3 seasons of Sanders career, he finished with 4,322 rushing yards. While also adding on 1,069 yards receiving, giving Sanders a total of 5,391 yards from scrimmage.

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As for McCaffrey, after his first 3 seasons in the league, he has 2,920 yards rushing in his young career. Adding with the 2,523 receiving yards, the Panthers young star has a total of 5,443 total yards from scrimmage. Surprisingly having more yards than Sanders through 3 season, even with a shared role his rookie season.

The NFL as a league has changed from the time Barry Sanders played to now when Christian McCaffrey is playing. In more of a passing league in todays NFL, the rushing yards are not up to par with Sanders. Being a total overall running back that McCaffrey is gives him a boost to be in the same range of scrimmage yardage as Sanders.

Only time will tell how great Christian McCaffrey is and how comparable he will be against one of the greatest to play the game, Barry Sanders.

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