Mock drafts had been projecting a running back to the Kansas City Chiefs for months leading up to Thursday night’s first-round pick. When the defending Super Bowl champions selected LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the surprise didn’t come from the position that was addressed, but rather which prospect had won over the hearts of the Chiefs’ front office.
By drafting the 5-foot-7-inch 207-pounder, Kansas City was the first team to pick a running back in the 2020 NFL Draft, ahead of a handful of other top competitors like Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. It was also the first time in 17 years, dating back to Larry Johnson (No. 27 overall) in 2003, that the Chiefs have taken a running back in the first round.
While speaking to the media after the conclusion of Round 1, General Manager Brett Veach expressed the organization’s excitement in being able to land a player of Edwards-Helaire’s makeup at that point in the process. The fourth-year GM also offered a pro comparison — former Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook.
According to Veach, upon sharing the comparison with Andy Reid, the Chiefs head coach said he believes his newest running back may be even better than the former All-Pro after watching his college film.
That is certainly high praise for Edwards-Helaire, especially considering Reid said in 2012 that he has “never coached a player as smart” as Westbrook. After the Eagles drafted the Villanova product in the third round (No. 91 overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft, Westbrook went on to spend eight of his nine NFL seasons playing under Reid in Philadelphia, making two Pro Bowls during that span. Reid helped turn the 5-foot-10-inch 203-pounder into one of the league’s most versatile threats, racking up 5,995 rushing yards, 3,790 receiving yards and 66 total touchdowns.
CEH a ‘Perfect Fit’ in Chiefs Offense
Edwards-Helaire, who was one of the 32 prospects Kansas City met with leading up to the draft, called this landing spot the “perfect fit” for his skill set when speaking to reporters on Thursday night.
“They were big on getting the running back out in space, and I feel like that was where I absolutely thrived,” said Edwards-Helaire. “And the Chiefs, they made a great call. The offense, the whole game plan and everything is a perfect fit.”
While meeting with Kansas City back at the NFL Combine in February, the LSU product offered an intriguing evaluation of the Chiefs’ offense and his potential role within Reid’s scheme, calling it “pretty much the same way we ran our college offense.” He posted 1,867 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior last season on the way to a National Championship victory.
The 21-year-old now joins a championship-caliber backfield featuring returning starter Damien Williams and recently signed DeAndre Washington, with the opportunity to contribute immediately in 2020. Considering Veach called his new top pick a “franchise running back,” it appears that will be the case.
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