Chiefs select LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in NFL Draft's first round

SEC Championship Football
Posted at 11:13 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 02:50:29-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During the final stretch before the 2020 NFL Draft, Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach likes to narrow down the players he and his staff are most interested in and let coach Andy Reid have a peek.

Sometimes, he even offers an NFL comparison.

For LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who Kansas City chose with the final pick Thursday in the draft's first round, Veach said he'd remind Reid of former Philadelphia running Brian Westbrook.

"He's better than Brian," Reid said after studying Edwards-Helaire's tape.

"That's no slight to Brian," Veach told reporters during a post-draft teleconference Thursday.

Instead, it's a reflection of how highly the Chiefs regard their newest weapon.

"Just the uncanny similarities (to Westbrook), I think jumped out my mind ...," Veach said. "He's a unique talent. The guy's explosive."

Westbrook averaged more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage and more than eight touchdowns per season during eight years with Reid for the Eagles.

If Edwards-Helaire turns out to be that productive, heaven help opposing defenses facing the Chiefs for the foreseeable future.

Edwards-Helaire is a short — 5 feet, 7 inches — but powerfully built prospect, who tipped the scales at 207 pounds in February at the NFL Combine.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach: Edwards-Helaire adds excitement to Chiefs' offense

He doesn’t have track-star speed, clocking a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, but he’s explosive and has tremendous feet and dazzles with his ability to elude tacklers.

Despite his stature, or perhaps because of it, Edwards-Helaire does a good job finding and exploiting seams, even between the tackles at times.

He shows excellent balance, is a willing blocker and shows excellent on-field awareness.

"The guy has the ability to kind of play the game in slow motion," Veach said.

As a junior last season, Edwards-Helaire averaged 6.6 yards per carry, racking up 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground last season for the national champion Tigers.

But he’s also a dynamic playmaker with good hands in the passing game, making him an ideal fit for coach Andy Reid’s offense.

Edwards-Helaire, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, caught 55 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown last season at LSU. He played a pro-style offense, which utilized him in pre-snap motion and all over the field as a receiving threat.

He’s already accustomed to a full NFL route tree out of the backfield — or in the slot or split out wide or coming in motion across the formation.

Edwards-Helaire, who was the first running back taken in the draft, may not be highly effective in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

He also may struggle to outrun pursuit angles from defensive backs and faster linebackers in getting the edge, but once he's in the open field Edwards-Helaire is tough to bring down and it'll be interesting to see the ways Reid dreams up to get the ball in his hands.

With Tyreek Hill already established as one of the NFL's top deep threats and Travis Kelce among the most potent weapons at the intermediate level, Edwards-Helaire should have plenty of room to operate underneath in the Chiefs' explosive system, whether it's out of the slot or the backfield.