In the months and weeks leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, many had pegged the Kansas City Chiefs as likely candidates to select a running back in Round 1. So when the defending Super Bowl champions pulled the trigger on LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the No. 32 overall pick, the surprise was less to do about the position addressed and more about the prospect himself.
Speaking to the media shortly after turning in team’s top pick, general manager Brett Veach told reporters that upon telling head coach Andy Reid that Edwards-Helaire reminded him of Brian Westbrook, Reid called the rookie rusher better than his former protege in Philadelphia (after an in-depth film study, of course).
While an immediate comparison to a former All-Pro is high praise for a player who has yet to take an NFL snap, Veach and Reid are hardly alone in their assessment of the LSU team captain and 2019 All-SEC First Team selection.
Panthers Star Weighs in on Ex-Tigers Standout
As a part of Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu’s “Radiothon” on Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio on Thursday, Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, who’s new offensive coordinator worked directly with Edwards-Helaire as LSU’s passing game coordinator in 2019, offered some glowing analysis of the Chiefs’ top pick during an interview with “Cody & Gold.”
McCaffrey’s full comments, via Arrowhead Pride:
“He can do everything,” McCaffrey explained in the interview. “I never looked at myself as a running back. I just looked at myself as a football player, as somebody who can line up in the slot, I can line up out wide… I took pride in being a complete back. When I say complete back, I mean somebody who can kind of do it all.
“So you look at a guy like Clyde, who I’ve seen a lot of LSU tape obviously with coach (Joe) Brady coming in now. He’s a guy who’s very instinctive, he can run the ball, he’s quick, makes people miss, but then you look at when he runs routes, he’s like Darren Sproles. He’s a shorter guy — no means small, but he is shorter. But he’s quick as hell, and he’s able to make guys miss before the ball’s in his hands and get open and run any route so when you see guys like that, I like to call them football players, not just running backs.”
McCaffrey built on a dominant 2018 season with a historic performance in 2019, leading the league in touches (403), all-purpose yards (2,392) and touchdowns (19) while posting the second-most receptions by any skill player (116).
McCaffrey, Sproles Headline Elite Company For ‘CEH’
In comparing Edwards-Helaire to Darren Sproles, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Eagles from 2014-16, the 23-year-old Panthers star joins a growing list of people within the league to praise the Chiefs’ selection. Sproles, like Westbrook before him, was a feared triple-threat running back throughout his 14-year career before retiring last December.
Interestingly enough, the former fourth-round pick of the San Diego Chargers still holds the NFL’s single-season all-purpose yards record with 2,696 total yards for the New Orleans Saints back in 2011.
Last season with the national champion Tigers, the 5-foot-7-inch, 207-pound Edwards-Helaire ran for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns (6.6 YPC) and hauled in 55 passes for an additional 453 yards through the air. All signs point to the rookie, who will take over the No. 25 jersey from former two-time All-Pro RBs LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles, splitting time with incumbent starter RB Damien Williams early on in 2020.
For more NFL updates, follow Chris Licata on Twitter: @Chris__Licata