By Alex Kurpeski
For the last year or so, NFL Twitter has been abuzz regarding Max Borghi, a running back for the Washington State football team (not to be confused with the Washington Football Team). Borghi is a pass-catching back who caught 86 passes for 597 yards while totaling 817 more on the ground within the framework of the Cougars’ offense last season. With impressive speed and hands, the 5’10, 195 lb, Borghi looks the part of a third-down back at the NFL level.
There are some who think much more of Borghi, going as far as to compare him to a young Christian McCaffrey. Similar to McCaffrey, Borghi is a slightly undersized satellite back who has thrived as a three-down weapon, making a living off of his ability to avoid tacklers. However, for Borghi to make the jump from who he is now to a McCaffrey level player would take an unprecedented bulk up. There was a noticeable difference in McCaffrey’s player between 2017 and 2018, as he spent that offseason adding muscle to his lean frame. Though I don’t doubt that Borghi can do the same, it would be a lot to ask of a smaller back, and it could come at the cost of his speed and agility. If you ask me, I think the Borghi-CMC comparison is rather lazy. One look at the image below will tell you all you need to know about why people make this comparison.
Despite being slightly undersized, Borghi runs with a good deal of power, dropping his shoulder to bowl through defenders while getting nice and low to the ground on runs like these. Borghi isn’t typically the type of back to “break ankles” with shifty footwork, but he doesn’t necessarily have to be in order to have a successful NFL career.
— Cougar Sports Network (@CougSportsNet) July 24, 2020
Borghi does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield. I’d even argue that he’s the best receiving back in college football. Washington State has done a great job of using him on swing routes, screens, and wheel routes while teaching him to pass protect as well.
— COUGFANcom (@CougfanCOM) November 10, 2018
A crisp route-runner, Borghi has no trouble getting behind his defender on certain routes. As we see in the play below, Borghi’s got the breakaway speed team’s love in a running back, as well.
Max Borghi just had this wheel route TD taken away on an offensive PI. Borghi has a game built for today's NFL pic.twitter.com/15djNlBwYX
— Theddy (@HaitianKid79) September 14, 2019
On this run from Borghi’s freshman season, we see flashes of his determination and field vision. He never gives up on this run, picking up extra yards while avoiding a variety of tacklers. Plays like this one will earn the approval of any NFL coach.
— COUGFANcom (@CougfanCOM) November 19, 2018
Sometimes practice tape can tell us a lot about a player too. As we can see in the clip below, Borghi is a guy who brings it day-in and day-out, a trait that will guarantee him touches once he reaches the NFL.
Tough running here from early enrollee RB Max Borghi. After the play, Andre Dillard chanted “He’s in high school, he’s in high school.” pic.twitter.com/xQbQfDRcd0
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) April 13, 2018
Did I mention that Borghi’s got hops too? Maybe those CMC comparisons aren’t so far off after all.
— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) January 29, 2019
While you can question Borghi’s “fit” in the NFL coming from an Air Raid offense, you cannot question his athletic ability. He’s a human highlight reel.
PAC-12 Player Spotlight:
Max Borghi (@WSUCougarFB RB)
– 1414 Yards in 2019 (#1 among all returning Pac-12 players)
– 16 TD’s in 2019
– 6.4 YPC in 2019 (#1 in PAC-12)
– Ranked as the #1 PAC-12 RB for 2020 by PFF
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) March 29, 2020
While we haven’t seen Borghi play this season, I think he’s done enough to warrant interest from NFL teams should he declare for the 2021 Draft. A hard-nosed runner with advanced ability as a receiver out of the backfield, Borghi is a safe bet to be drafted by a team in need of a third-down back. I could certainly see the Washington State standout becoming a starting running back at the NFL level, though there’s a lot of work for him to do in order to get to that level.