The Kansas City Chiefs made a dynamic addition to their backfield on Thursday night by selecting LSU tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Following the pick, Chiefs’ General Manager Brett Veach and Edwards-Helaire spoke with the media via web call to discuss the evening’s action. Here are five things that stood out from those conversations.
1. Veach kicked things off by explaining what the Chiefs liked about Edwards-Helaire and why they made him the squad’s first-round selection.
“His interior running ability, the vision and the instincts are rare and unique. The guy has the ability to kind of play the game in slow motion,” Veach said. “[Looking at] his lateral agility, his vision, his ability to start and stop and his hands out of the backfield, some guys have one trait or the other, but we felt like he had all those traits.”
A first-time starter in 2019, Edwards-Helaire rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns – ranking third in the FBS (min. 210 carries) by averaging 6.68 yards-per-rush – and he tallied seven 100-yard rushing performances in 2019, racking up 110 yards in LSU’s victory over Clemson in the National Championship Game. His rushing total in 2019 was the third-highest single-season total in LSU’s storied history and his 55 catches were the most ever in a single season by a running back at LSU, demonstrating a certain adversity that reminded Veach and Reid of former All-Pro tailback Brian Westbrook.
“About three or four weeks ago when we were working through the final wave of this process – and at that point I usually give Coach a couple guys to take a peek at – I told him that once he finishes looking at him, he’ll remind him of Brian Westbrook. Coach called me back later and said he was better than Brian. That’s no slight to Brian either because I got to play against him at the University of Delaware and he was a Ring of Fame player in Philadelphia,” Veach said. “Edwards-Helaire is just a unique talent. He’s explosive, he has the ability to make something out of nothing and that’s what you look at with these running backs. This guy can consistently make plays when there is really nothing to be made, and now throwing him in there with [wide receiver] Tyreek Hill, [wide receiver] Sammy Watkins, [tight end] Travis Kelce, [wide receiver Mecole Hardman] and [tailback] Damien Williams, we think it’ll be really exciting.”
2. Now with the second and third round on deck, Veach explained how he and his staff are approaching Friday’s action.
The Chiefs currently own two picks on Friday at No. 63 and No. 96, and Veach explained that the process remains the same as it did for the first round.
“This is why you put in all the time, just so all the numbers work out and you have the stacks where you think they belong. [Friday], we’ll get up and we’ll have another web chat with our scouts and we spent so much time the last few weeks just kind of narrowing down the logical selections I think everybody had in their minds. Every team has 10 to 15 players who are consensus guys who will go early. Once you get into the 20s, you begin to see team-specific picks or selections based on scheme. So, I think our personnel staff did a really good job,” Veach said. “We had like six guys where we said if we didn’t move up or back, these guys would be there. It was then kind of like clockwork. Around pick No. 24 or 25, these guys started all going off the board. So, we’ll do the same process on Friday, we’ll just eliminate the first-round players and look at the names left on the board. We’ll stack those guys and we’ll get to a point where we feel like when we’re at [our second-round pick], if we don’t move up or move back, we’ll have a group where we feel confident these certain guys will be there. We’ll stack them in order, and if we don’t trade up, we’ll follow that order.”
3. Edwards-Helaire, meanwhile, discussed how he saw himself fitting into Kansas City’s offense.
“Watching the Kansas City offense last year, they were big on getting the running back out in space. Any check down or any way that the running back could get out and run a route, that’s absolutely where I did most of my damage [in college],” Edwards-Helaire said. “Those are things that Kansas City is big on and that’s what the foundation is built on, being able to get the ball in space and spread the ball around. That stretches defenses, so being able to catch the ball out of the backfield and run routes makes it a perfect fit.”
4. Interestingly enough, it turns out Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes was hoping Kansas City would select Edwards-Helaire, too.
Unsurprisingly, Edwards-Helaire was pretty pumped to hear that.
“It’s the next step. Being able to play with a guy who won a Super Bowl and who was an MVP is something that I absolutely dreamed of,” Edwards-Helaire said. “Ultimately, hearing the draft story and that he texted back my name, it makes me feel wanted. It makes me feel like there’s a plan, and once we execute that plan, we can be back-to-back Super Bowl champs.”
5. Lastly, Edwards-Helaire – a Baton Rouge native – seemed pretty excited to be joining LSU legend and current Chiefs’ safety Tyrann Mathieu in Kansas City.
Mathieu is an icon in those parts, so it’s no surprise that Edwards-Helaire was thrilled about teaming up with “The Landlord.”
“It’s going to be pretty epic. Being younger than him, I always watched him but never got the opportunity to play with him. I’m excited for it and can’t wait,” Edwards-Helaire said. “I know he’s going to show me some things as far as coverage. The way I see it, I can only get better with the guy who I see as the ‘goat.'”
The second round of the NFL Draft beginning at 6 pm CT.