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Christian McCaffrey might break the all-time rookie receptions record

After being selected No. 8 overall, Christian McCaffrey is on pace to have his name written in the NFL record books

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Some rookies get hazed. Some struggle to learn the playbook. Others can’t earn consistent playing time.

But a select few, like Christian McCaffrey, rewrite the record books in their first NFL seasons.

The all-time receptions record for a rookie is 101 set by Anquan Boldin in 2003.

Halfway through his rookie season, McCaffrey has reeled in 49 receptions for 378 yards. The math is pretty easy: CMC is on track for 98 receptions. This would put him just four catches short of setting the all-time rookie reception record.

Even if McCaffrey stays on his current pace and hauls in 98 receptions, that would still be good enough for second all-time for a rookie, per

Most Receptions, Rookie Season

Name Receptions Year
Name Receptions Year
Anquan Boldin 101 2003
Terry Glenn 90 1996
Reggie Bush 88 2006

It’s not easy for first-year receivers to learn a new playbook, get in sync with a new quarterback, beat out veterans for playing time, and make a regular impact.

Christian McCaffrey may end up doing this better than any rookie to ever play the game.

McCaffrey vs. Other Rookies

With McCaffrey being on a historic pace for receptions, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s destroying the rest of the rookie class in this category based on data from Pro-Football-Reference.

Most Receptions, Rookies (Through Week 8)

Name Team Receptions Games
Name Team Receptions Games
Christian McCaffrey Panthers 49 8
Alvin Kamara Saints 32 7
Evan Engram Giants 30 7
Tarik Cohen Bears 28 8
Kareem Hunt Chiefs 28 8

Even in today’s pass-happy NFL, what CMC is doing isn’t easy. If it was easy then other rookies would be keeping pace. If it was easy, McCaffrey wouldn’t be leading this category by a country mile. But it’s not easy.

Christian McCaffrey is just that good.

Appreciating What CMC is Doing

McCaffrey’s detractors will point out that while his receiving numbers are impressive, his rushing stats aren’t.

True, he’s rushed 49 times for just 117 yards, or a paltry 2.4 yards per carry, but this is more of an indictment of Carolina’s shoddy run blocking than anything else. There are simply no holes to run through. Carolina’s three other running backs – Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker, and Cameron Artis-Payne – have combined for 347 yards on 118 carries, or a similarly anemic 2.9 yards per carry.

While CMC’s rushing production is well below expectations, his productivity as a receiver may end up rewriting the record books.

McCaffrey is a brilliant route runner. He has a knack for finding open spaces when facing zone coverage. When facing man coverage, his foot speed and crisp patterns get separation that often leave him open by several steps. He has great hands and if he can touch it, he will catch it.

It wouldn’t be surprising if McCaffrey breaks Boldin’s all-time record. Of CMC's 49 receptions, 22 came in the first four games and 27 came in the last four. Plus, with the shocking trade of Kelvin Benjamin, his targets are bound to increase. He’s trending in the right direction.

Panthers fans can now just sit back and watch history unfold, one reception at a time.


How Many Receptions Will McCaffrey Have This Year?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    101+ (Ties or Breaks All-Time Record)
    (325 votes)
  • 30%
    90-100 (Finishes Second All-Time)
    (161 votes)
  • 6%
    Less Than 90 (Second Half Slowdown)
    (35 votes)
521 votes total Vote Now