LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has used this college football season to greatly improve his NFL draft stock. Edwards-Helaire exact draft projections have varied given he is a late-riser with his stellar season including a major statement game against Alabama.
The LSU running back just missed The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s top 100 big board which would put Edwards-Helaire getting drafted around the 4th round. Brugler later admitted after the LSU-Alabama game that the physical back made a strong case for “being taken no later than Day 2.” Brugler provided a perfect comparison for Edwards-Helaire: Ravens’ Mark Ingram.
As I put together my top-100 draft board last week, there were a handful of players I hated to leave on the cutting-room floor. LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire was one of those prospects. He has been a critical component to the Tigers’ offense all season with 100-plus rushing yards in the wins over Florida and Auburn. But his value and diverse skill were never more evident than his performance vs. the Tide.
…He also made an impact in pass protection [against Alabama], showing his ability to be a true three-down running back. The Baton Rouge native reminds me of a smaller version of Mark Ingram — compact, quick and versatile.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller was also impressed with Edwards-Helaire’s performance against Alabama’s defense. Miller noted the LSU back is a “top-100 player and potential NFL starter.”
Edwards-Helaire might only be listed at 5’8″ and 209 pounds, but he dazzled with power, spin moves and exceptional hands in the passing game while taking over the game for the Tigers.
Edwards-Helaire likely won’t test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his game film throughout 2019 makes him a top-100 player and potential NFL starter.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s NFL Draft Profile
STRENGTHS: Edwards-Helaire is a punishing running back who rarely goes down upon first contact. The LSU rusher is also surprisingly impactful in the passing game as he showed off in LSU’s win over Alabama. Edwards-Helaire had a whopping nine receptions and 77 yards along with a touchdown to go with his 20 rushes for 103 yards and a TD on the ground against the Crimson Tide.
Edwards-Helaire knows how to find the end zone and his 16 touchdowns are top 10 in the NCAA. Heading into the SEC Championship, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 1,233 yards and also has 338 receiving yards this season. As Brugler pointed out, Edwards-Helaire has proved he is a true three-down back. Freshman running back John Emery was one of the top recruits in the country and Edwards-Helaire’s play has kept him off the field.
WEAKNESSES: Edwards-Helaire is a bit undersized at 5’8″ but plays much bigger than his smaller stature. As Miller noted, the LSU rusher is not going to wow people at the NFL Combine.
It is unclear how fast he will run the 40-yard dash, but there is a good chance that he plays faster in games than he will on a track. Edwards-Helaire did run a 4.47 in high school, per ESPN. He is a bit of a latecomer to the list of top backs, but it is hard to argue with Edwards-Helaire’s production this season.
SUMMARY: It looks like Edwards-Helaire is on the border of being a Day 2 or Day 3 pick. This puts the LSU running back in the third to fourth round range. He may not get handed an NFL starting job right away, but it is hard to imagine Edwards-Helaire not finding the field sooner rather than later once he is drafted.