After an outstanding debut followed by a shaky second game and a decent third, many have found themselves wondering if Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will live up to the hype.
In the Chiefs season opener against the Houston Texans, many expected the most intriguing storyline of the night to be the battle between Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes; two of the leagues premiere young quarterbacks. With that matchup falling flat (or at least not living up to what people thought it would be), the focus shifted to Edwards-Helaire.
Some saw the former Louisiana State University (LSU) running back as a lock as a Day 2 selection in the draft, but the Chiefs (somewhat) surprised fans by picking him with the last pick of the first round.
While one could argue that Edwards-Helaire was bolstered by being on one of the best teams in CFB history, realistically, if he were 6 feet tall, he would have been a first-round lock on everybody’s board. His play in 2019 speaks for itself, no matter what team he was on. The reality is that Edwards-Helaire rushed for 1,414 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns. He also added 423 receiving yards. On top of the great stats, Edwards-Helaire earned them against the most formidable teams, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson.
The guy flat out balled against the best teams college football had to offer. If that doesn’t say the first-round pick to you, not sure what would.
Fast forward roughly eight following LSU’s national championship victory. Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushes for 138 yards in his first NFL game, which is made even more impressive by the fact that the NFL had no preseason this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, though, it is tough to say whether Edwards-Helaire is the real deal with such a small sample size.
When factoring Edwards-Helaire rushed for only 38 yards in Week 2 (10 carries, 3.8 YPC), talk about whether or not he is a good NFL running back becomes questionable. To be fair, the Chiefs did not have a lead until their game-winning field goal in overtime. Patrick Mahomes also attempted 47 passes, which would make it difficult for any running back to get a meaningful rhythm going, especially a running back in his second NFL game ever.
In Week 3, Edwards-Helaire bounced back against an adamant Baltimore team. While he was not precisely spectacular on the ground by any means (3.2 YPC), Edwards-Helaire was great in the passing game, catching five passes for 70 yards. Edwards-Helaire tallied a total of 134 yards in a matchup with what is likely one of the best defenses on the Chiefs’ schedule. Similar to their Week 2 matchup, Patrick Mahomes attempted 42 passes against Baltimore. It appears as though the Chiefs are trying to involve Edwards-Helaire in the passing game, especially if they plan to keep letting Mahomes throw 40-plus passes a game, especially after a solid showing this week.
It seems that the young running back will continuously face the issue of getting touches on the ground, as long as he plays in Kansas City. Andy Reid does not default to a run-heavy offense. Why would he? Reid’s team just shelled out $500 million to their QB. Realistically, the Chiefs did not pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of necessity. Damien Williams has proven that he is a capable starter, rushing for 104 yards in Super Bowl LIV.
Williams eventually announced that he would opt-out for the 2020 season due to COVID concerns. Kansa City lucked into Edwards-Helaire as a replacement for Williams. At the end of the day, if Edwards-Helaire fizzles out, the Chiefs offense will be fine.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a ton of upside. It seems that raw players with a high ceiling tend to thrive under Andy Reid. It was not so long ago that Patrick Mahomes was just the kid with a big arm from a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. While Reid has not been traditionally known as a developer of running backs, Jamal Charles had a similar skillset as Edwards-Helaire. Charles had a couple of excellent seasons under Reid.
Overall, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has the skillset to be an elite NFL running back. Power backs are a dime a dozen these days. As we saw last year with Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler, runningbacks that are also a receiving threat can be very valuable to an offense, and Andy Reid is one of the coaches that will be able to take advantage of that.