• Devan Flint

Will Clyde Edwards-Helaire be the next Christian McCaffrey?

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

The Kansas City Chiefs drafted running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the last pick in the first-round of the 2020 NFL draft. Chiefs Super Bowl winning quarterback, Patrick Mahomes was also reportedly the one who made the call which will only add to the running backs confidence as he becomes part of the best offense in the league. Edwards-Helaire fits the Chiefs offensive system perfectly and his skill set will him allow to flourish.

Edwards-Helaire played all three of his college seasons at LSU where on course to winning a National Championship in 2020 he had a breakout year. In 15 games Helaire totalled 215 carries for 1414 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns along with 55 catches for 453 receiving yards and a touchdown, proving that he has the ability to both run the ball and catch it out the backfield.

The only real knocks against Edwards-Helaire are due to his size, 5ft 7, meaning some view him as incapable of being a 3-down running back, however, he has shown throughout his college career to be both an elusive and hard-nosed runner. His size also means his pass protection may never be great but as long as he improves it he will be able to be a great all purpose 3-down back.

The former LSU running back is one of the best route-running and pass catching running backs in recent drafts. Although possessing the art and skill of receiving the ball out of the backfield he is also a powerful and tough runner which allows him to stay on the field for 3rd and short situations. With the ball in his hands he is incredibly hard to bring down due to his ability to break tackles with power and balance as well as makes people miss with his agility.

Both general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid have likened Clyde to Reid’s former running back in Philadelphia, Brian Westbrook. This comparison is very high praise given over Westbrook’s career he amounted 10,000 yards from scrimmage including five years in a row with more than 1,000.

However, Westbrook himself appeared to agree with the comparison. Westbrook spoke about the chief’s selection on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ saying “I see speed. I see elusiveness. I see a guy that — if you put him in space, it’s going to be very hard to tackle him. And I just started to think of the Kansas City Chiefs as a team. And you have to consider space-makers. Tyreek Hill, space-maker. You talk about Travis Kelce, space-maker. If you get Sammy Watkins back, space-maker. Teams have to account for speed and their ability to run after the catch.”

Westbrook went on to draw comparisons between Edwards-Helaire and himself, “You’re talking about a guy out of the backfield that can catch very well, can make a guy miss, always going to make the first man miss,” added Westbrook. “Andy Reid — and listen, I’m very, very biased — is better than any coach in the league [understanding] space and how to create space for his players. We see that with all the yards after the catch that Kelce and Hill get — and listen, you put this kid in that offense, and I just think this is a dream come true for Andy Reid, but also Patrick Mahomes and Edwards-Helaire because he’s going to have a great opportunity to carry the rock, touch it in a lot of different ways — screen game, the passes out of the backfield. The same way that Andy Reid used me. I’m excited about that offense.”

In his rookie year its likely Edwards-Helaire will start behind Damien Williams in the depth chart, however, I don’t think it will be long before he wins the starting job. Given the chiefs high flying offense I believe he will have bloated stats and challenge for if not win offensive rookie of the year in 2020 before making a Christian McCaffrey like jump in his second year into a top 10 running back.

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