When the Chiefs signed DeAndre Washington in mid-April, it looked like he was to be Damien Williams’ main backup. But when the draft rolled around, that all changed, and his role became a lot more limited with the first-round selection of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But with Williams opting out of the season, where does that leave Washington at now?
DeAndre Washington, who is 27 years old, is in the prime of his career. A career that has been seemingly relegated to back up roles, having sat in Oakland behind Latavius Murray, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, and stud rookie Josh Jacobs.
Even after the first round selection for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Washington was positive, saying “I felt like Kansas City was a great opportunity for me, even before they drafted the back (Clyde). I think he’s a great back, but you know how this game goes, guys are going to roll, it’s a long season, so I feel like there’s a lot for everybody to eat.”
This is going to have to be his philosophy going into this year, because with the opt-out of Damien Williams for the season, Washington’s plate just got a lot bigger.
Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire is slated to probably start the season as RB1, but head coach Andy Reid has always somewhat managed his running backs by committee. Think about last year’s three-pronged approach, with Damien And Darrel Williams, and then LeSean ‘Shady” McCoy. Darrell handled most of the power running duties, and McCoy and Damien handled the pass-catching and outside/zone run plays.
It seems like that will be Reid’s approach this year, another three-headed monster at RB. Darrel Williams will be the straight-ahead, three yards in a cloud of dust type of runner, while Washington and Edwards-Helaire will be more situated to handle open-field situations, catching passes out of the backfield.
GM Brett Veach stated that the Chiefs have been high on Washington since he was a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, stating “DeAndre Washington was a guy we liked coming out. He’s a guy that can run, can catch, smart, great worker.” And he went to school with another piece of the Chiefs backfield at Texas Tech, a one Mr. Patrick Mahomes.
The camaraderie these two already have established in college could prove invaluable in big game spots when Mahomes is under pressure and needs to find a quick route to get the ball to. None of this, however, mentions perhaps Washington’s most valuable addition to this Chiefs squad.
When I mentioned earlier the backs that Washington has played behind, one of them was a star rookie rusher, who ended up finishing the season with over 1,100 rushing yards. And Washington’s role in his growth was vital, his team first mentality.
If Josh Jacobs was hot, Washington would tell him to stay in the game, even though they were working on a rotation. And he says he is bringing that same energy to KC and its new young rookie rusher, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, saying “I want (Edwards-Helaire) to shine and Josh would get hot in the game, I would tell Josh to stay in the game – no reason to come out… were in a rotation but you’re hot, stay in the game and keeping going”.
This mentality is a vital reason the Chiefs likely added Washington, this Chiefs squad is full of players like this. As long as the plays are getting made, they don’t care who does it, just as long as it’s getting done. That team-first mentality and a penchant for mentoring young rushers into greatness is a huge reason why Washington was added.
He can come in for Edwards-Helaire when he needs a breather, giving a similar look that will keep opposing defenses on their toes, and in the locker room, teach the young man in the ins and outs of the league.
This was truly a match made in heaven for the Chiefs; bring in an old friend and teammate of Mahomes with a team-first mentality that can help out of a backup role mold the potential future star running back into greatness.
And hey, his skills as a pass-catcher and runner in space aren’t too shabby either. Overall, this was another great snag by the wizard the Chiefs have in the front office, Brett Veach.