The most popular highlight film of Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. on YouTube starts with a warning message to its incoming viewers.
WARNING: VIDEO MAY CONTAIN PLAYERS GETTING BURNED AND PEOPLE GETTING THEIR ANKLES BROKEN
If you make it five seconds into that video you'll see that warning was well warranted.
The 5-foot-8, 195 pounds McFarland -- who is not the son of former football player "Booger" McFarland, which is pretty crazy since both of their names are not only "Anthony McFarland" but that this Anthony McFarland is also a "Jr." -- is a stud. He's a former 5-star running back who was the No. 2 running back in the entire 2017 recruiting class. The No. 1 guy was Georgia's D'Andre Swift, so go figure.
Where do we start with McFarland.
Single-digit number? Check.
Old school white mouth guard that is attached to the face mack? Check.
McFarland didn't have a ton of use in 2018, his redshirt freshman season, but his 131 carries still garnered a 1,000-yard rushing campaign thanks to a 7.9 yards-per-carry average.
With his skill set and style, McFarland is basically begging to get picked on my Madden team. As much as personal aesthetics rank high on my list of why I pick my Madden players, it's the potential ability for this guy to be an absolute Madden cheat code that is really what has me going crazy over his draft stock.
Play No. 1: The Speed
Are you kidding me? Look at those jets. I haven't seen jets like that since the 1998 Jets. Which were, of course, the best jets -- outside of Bennie and the Jets.
If I haven't lost you yet, let's get back to McFarland.
That run showed off some crazy speed. Yes, Buckeyes cornerback Damon Arnette sort of blew this one because he was suppose to be the edge defender and he crept way too far inside. But you can still get an appreciation for just how fast McFarland is and the kind of home run hitting ability he has.
Let's take a look at it again.
Play No. 2: THE SPEED
Wait, that's not the same play? You're telling me this guy smoked Ohio State's defense on back-to-back series to open the game?
This run wasn't too difficult either. It was an inside zone blocking concept where I'm not sure why the linebacker just totally crashed into the extra offensive lineman on the far side while the defensive end would've had plenty of contain. But for whatever reason the safety found himself challenging McFarland in the hole at full speed with tons of space and it didn't work out so well for the boys in Scarlet and Gray.
Again, this run showed off what McFarland brings to the table that few other running backs can, and that is true game-changing speed.
But, as is the case with many fast prospects who have attempted NFL careers, speed is not enough. To succeed at the next level you have to have the vision. That's why I've title the next play "The Vision."
Play No. 3: The Vision
Ok, so I know Vision from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dead (press F), but have we ever considered the possibility that Jarvis Vision was actually an imposter and the real Avenger named Vision is actually Anthony McFarland?
I love how McFarland sees zone blocking. It is a thing of beauty. For as quickly and as violently as McFarland can put his foot in the ground and change one direction, he is perfect for such a scheme. This also gives me some faith to him navigating more complex split zone and gap scheme blocking concepts. But, as for right now, draft him to a zone blocking scheme and watch him flourish. He has very good recognition for being so young.
Play No. 4: The... OK Maybe He Can't Block
Now, I want to preface this part of the 5-Play by saying this: McFarland was just a redshirt freshman last season. I wouldn't really expect any redshirt freshman, especially a speed back, to be great with blocking.
When I first turned on his tape, I actually saw some plays where, when setting up his stance, McFarland looked eager and ready to take on rushers. That got me excited. Then I saw him pull the rug from underneath me and be not very good at it at all -- and not as willing as I thought he would be once the contact arrived.
As a three-down back, McFarland can run and catch, but he can't really help you out in the pass blocking game right now.
Play No. 5: The Madden Cheat Code
As stated earlier, McFarland is the next great Madden weapon. When McFarland is available in Madden, I'm not even going to touch the running back position group in my franchise draft until, like, round 30 knowing I can do things like the clip above with him as my starter -- unless he absolutely balls out this year for Maryland and is a Top 50 player, then I'll have to pick him higher.
(P.s. if you ever hit that play above on me in an online match and it goes for a touchdown, I'm 100 percent rage quitting.)
I think McFarland can be the Darrell Henderson of this draft class. Henderson was built bigger, but McFarland has plenty of strength to break tackles, as well.
In a class with guys like Travis Etienne, D'Andre Swift and Jonathan Taylor, don't forget about McFarland, the next Madden cheat code.