Former LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was not projected as a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but with the final selection of that round landed with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. It looks like an ideal fit for the rookie. Here are Edwards-Helaire’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Chiefs’ over/under win total.
- Odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year: +400 (second-favorite)
- Chiefs’ win total: 5 (over -140 favorite)
Edwards-Helaire is in running back paradise after Andy Reid and the Chiefs selected him with the 32nd pick of April’s draft. Reid knows how to use his backs to their strengths – just ask guys like Damien Williams, Kareem Hunt or Brian Westbrook.
In fact, Chiefs GM Brett Veach said Edwards-Helaire reminded him of Westbrook, the former all-around stellar back with the Eagles with Reid was there.
“When we were kind of putting the final touches on our board and looking at a group of players that we thought would be there, I remember talking to [coach Andy Reid] reminding him how much [Edwards-Helaire] reminds me of Brian Westbrook,” Veach said. “Coach called back and after a few conversations he admitted he thought he was better than Brian.”
Edwards-Helaire didn’t see the ball much as a freshman but as a sophomore in 2018 he finished second on the team with 658 rushing yards to go with seven TDs to go with 11 receptions for 96 yards. CEH led LSU and ranked No. 12 in the SEC in all-purpose yards with 90.0 per game and averaged 24.5 yards on 17 kickoff returns, which ranked No. 5 in the SEC.
Last year, Edwards-Helaire was a monster in that high-powered offense for the national championship-winning Tigers. After being limited in the College Football Playoff semifinal rout of Oklahoma and not starting, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 110 yards and 15 carries and caught five passes for 54 yards in 42-25 win over Clemson in CFP National Championship game.
He finished the season with 1,414 rushing yards and 16 TDs and caught 55 passes for 453 yards and a TD. Edwards-Helaire became the first player in SEC history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch at least 50 passes in single a season.
He was named first-team All-SEC and a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in college football. CEH led the SEC in rushing TDs (16) and finished No. 2 in the league in rushing yards. He was second in the SEC in all-purpose yards (2,081) and all-purpose yards per game (138.7) and fifth in rushing yards per game (94.3). Edwards-Helaire set LSU single-season record for receptions by a running back with 55. He is a tackle-breaking machine. He ranked second in the FBS last season with 97.
Edwards-Helaire is shifty runner that is tough to bring down. is His short frame allows him to get “lost” behind LSU’s offensive line, making it tough for defenders to find as he plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8, 208-pound frame. His low center of gravity and quick feet make him difficult to bring down in open space, showcasing those traits with heightened opportunity (64 targets) as a receiver out of the Tigers’ backfield last year.
His stature and 4.60 speed make him an unconventional three-down prospect but he’ll have time to develop as such since he’ll only be 21 years old in his rookie season. One concern among analysts is Edwards-Helaire’s pass blocking.
The Chiefs thought his versatility made Edwards-Helaire a strong fit for their offense and his ability as a pass-catcher separated him from the rest of the running backs in the draft. Veach has said that Damien Williams will remain the starter, but Edwards-Helaire will “compete for playing time.” Williams hasn’t handled more than 111 carries and 30 catches at any point in his six-year career.
“I certainly think it’s going to be a shared load,” Veach said. “Damien has been in this offense for a long time and certainly has shown what he can do on that playoff run. The guy’s a really good pass protector [and] can catch the football. I mean, both these guys can run and catch and certainly Damien will come in as the starting running back and Clyde will have to come in here and compete for playing time, which we think he’ll do. But I think it will be a one-two punch.”