They did it. On April 24th, 2020, during one of the most wild times in the history of the world, and what will surely be the most memorable NFL Drafts ever, the Kansas City Chiefs sent shock waves through the NFL by selecting LSU Running Back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd pick of the first round. Reactions in the Kingdom were mixed. Some were happy because of the potential of a consistent every down back, while others thought the team had bigger holes to fill. While it does go against conventional wisdom of the way the modern NFL is set up as a passing league, and the way RB’s are cycled through by teams, the Chiefs were in a very unconventional situation.
If you are the general manager of a poor football team, do not take a running back in the first round. It makes very little sense for teams who pick high in the draft to select a player who may have, at the most, five or six good seasons with the team. Even most good and playoff teams shouldn’t select a running back in the first round. Teams who are building themselves for the future or building for a strong run into the postseason would, more than likely, be better off taking a player at another position to help strengthen their team. That brings us to the point at hand: the Chiefs are currently the hunters, not the hunted. When you are a hunter, what better way to stay on top than strengthen what you already do best? And what the Chiefs do best is score points and make big plays.
During his last season in Baton Rouge, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a game breaker. He rushed for 1,141 yards with 16 touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards a carry. While his impact was outstanding in the running game, his ability to catch the ball was very impressive. He tallied 55 receptions for 453 yards, one touchdown, but an impressive 8.2 yards per catch.
At 5ft7 and 210 pounds, CEH uses his stout size to his advantage. The first thing that stands out to me about him as a player is his vision. It’s as good as anyone taken in the draft this year. Every move he makes is set up by him being able to see openings that other RB’s cannot. This leads me to his second-best trait, his feet. Ridiculously quick, below you can see how crisp his spin move is. His feet are like pistons once they hit the turf, which combined with great body control, lets him stay on course.
His patience is really an underrated portion of his game. In the zone schemes, he ran in college as well as what he will run with the Chiefs patience and vision are key. To be able to find the cutback lane even when the opposing team has it snuffed out is a work of art. The hesitation to open it up himself in the clip below is just great football, and great feel for how the play is going to happen.
While his vision, footwork, and patience are very important parts of his game, the things that put him on the radar for NFL scouts are his explosion and power. He is a jacked up freak show with ridiculous amounts of power. In the clip above the explosion is on full display.
Breakaway speed really isn’t his game but his burst in the open field is considerable. His shiftiness really helps him throw defenders off their angle when they are trying to run him down.
Quick feet, good vision, and explosive athletic ability lead to great contact balance. Once Edwards-Helaire gets through to the linebacker level, and even the secondary level, he can be a problem.
He also has the ability to create mismatch nightmares for defensive coordinators due to his ability to catch the ball. A popular route in the LSU offense was the angle route and CEH ran it to perfection. The whole idea of the route is for the RB to sell just being the check-down before cutting on a dime back to the middle of the field. As quick as he is, most LB’s in college struggled to keep up with his fast twitch ability.
The physical attributes are all outstanding. They help him play the way he wants. My favorite trait, however, is his attitude. Just watch the play above. This is what we can expect to see in Kansas City. As long as time is still left on the clock, CEH will give 100% effort. The play above is great but if he doesn’t have the mindset he plays with maybe it’s fewer yards. Maybe the defense thinks they can get the better of him. Maybe
they don’t go back to the huddle demoralized about the pile being pushed seven more yards down the field.
In the evaluation process of the draft, I think many took a look at the potent offense Edwards-Helaire played in and figured he was just a product of what he was playing in. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was also named MVP of the Louisana State football team; a team that has had several first-round picks as well as number one overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Running Back’s aren’t valued like they used to be and that’s fine. But much like in his time at LSU, Edwards-Helaire will be in a situation where he is on a team with elite passing. On a team with all those stars, it was apparent how much value he brought to the team. From one championship team to another and one cast of stars to another, he will transition easily into Andy Reid’s zone runs, RPO’s, and screen passes that have become offensive staples for him in KC. He will provide the backbreaking runs that could propel the KC offense back to the 2018 form. It’s not about the value of the position of the player, it’s about how much the TEAM values the player.