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Fighting for a roster spot, Packers’ Max McCaffrey is turning heads

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Not as highly touted as his running back brother, Max McCaffrey has a difficult road to climb with a crowded Packer receiving corps.

Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

Jordan Rodgers. Cooper Manning. Chris Gronkowski. Marcus Vick.

Brothers of prominent football players have had football careers of varying results. Jordan Rodgers is more famous for The Bachelor than actually chucking a pigskin. Cooper never had his full potential realized due to a rare medical condition. The elder Gronk here bounced around to several teams before leaving football. And Marcus Vick is more active on social media now than he was on practice fields.

Of course, it must be mentioned that the brothers of the previously listed players have all had success in the NFL, whereas Max McCaffrey’s brother, Christian McCaffrey, has yet to play an NFL down. Nevertheless, Max McCaffrey is already seen as the “other McCaffrey” in NFL circles.

Christian won the AP College Football Player of the Year in 2015 and was a Heisman runner-up. Max went undrafted.

Christian was the #8 pick of the Carolina Panthers in the 2017 draft. Max signed with the Raiders after the 2016 draft, but was cut 4 months later.

Christian went to Stanford with a football program that produced John Elway, Andrew Luck and Ed McCaffrey, father to both Max and Christian. Max went to Duke, a school more known for its basketball team than football program.

NCAA Football: New Era Pinstripe Bowl- Indiana vs Duke Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, Max is already in the shadow of his younger brother. It’s now time to work his way out and shine a light on his own abilities.

When watching highlights of Max at Duke, nothing immediately jumps off the screen that suggests he could be a game changer. He runs well and has good speed with pads on to go along with a tall 6’3” frame. His biggest plays are those on fly routes where he’s using his speed to leave the defense behind, but not a lot of big plays that showcase any more precise routes or difficult catches.

It looks like he’s been working on his route running during the off-season, though:

Loved training back home this off-season!! One more week until OTAs!! #letsgetit

A post shared by Max McCaffrey (@maxmccaffrey87) on

He does have athleticism, and it can’t be ignored. At his Duke Pro Day, he ran the 40 in times ranging from 4.46 to 4.36 seconds and combined that with a 36.5-inch vertical. He’ll need to harness these physical gifts in order to make the Packers final 53-man roster.

Reports from Training Camp indicate that Max McCaffrey has been putting on a good show and has become a favorite target of the backup QBs. He h as reportedly been catching everything that comes his way and he’s making the most of the opportunities that come his way:

While it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Max make the final roster, it’s the competition that makes the picture murky.

Let’s say there are 7 roster spots open for the receivers (and that’s being generous). Let’s also assume three spots are already reserved for Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb. That leaves 4 remaining slots left to hopefully earn the trust and respect of Aaron Rodgers. However, Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis, 2017 draft picks Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey, Montay Crockett, Colby Pearson, Michael Clark and Max McCaffrey are all competing for those final 4 spots.

Allison may already have a spot locked up because of the season he had last year, stepping in when the starters were injured. (He is suspended for the first week of the season, though, but we’ll say for now that if he were to make the team his week one roster spot is used elswehere. Davis and Janis may get a nod because of their potential for returning kicks and punts. Needless to say, it doesn’t look great if Max is battling 2 draft picks and 3 other receivers for a final spot.

The Packers are fairly unpredictable when it comes to roster decisions, though. Last season at the final cut-down deadline, they cut Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, and they let fellow Pro Bowler T.J. Lang go in free agency. I’m not counting out Randall Cobb as a possible candidate to get cut either, and just because you were a draft pick doesn’t mean you’ll get priority over a player that works his butt off and earns his spot.

As Max frequently gets open and earns the trust of the Green Bay quarterbacks, he’ll be hard to ignore.

While Christian McCaffrey is being talked about as a high value fantasy back and working in with the first-team offense in Carolina, Max will be at the Don Hutson Center working to put his name in the conversation.

And Green Bay loves a hard worker.