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Clyde Edwards-Helaire Might Be The Best RB In The Draft (2020 NFL Draft)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 19, 2020

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a difference-maker at the running back position

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

Height: 5’7″
Weight: 207 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.60 seconds
Vertical: 39.5 inches
Broad Jump: 123.0 inches

There was a whole lot of debate after the NFL Combine on whether or not Edwards-Helaire’s 40-time would impact his draft stock. Some say that it won’t affect it at all, while others understand that some NFL teams fall in love with speed. What you see on tape from Edwards-Helaire should be more important, and it could lead to someone stealing him in the draft later than they should.

He doesn’t have very many miles on his tires, as he totaled just 370 carries during his three-year stint at LSU, though that didn’t stop Joe Burrow from telling people that “Edwards-Helaire is the best athlete on the team, no question.” Burrow wasn’t the only one racking up stats in 2019, as Edwards-Helaire compiled 1,867 total yards and 17 total touchdowns. He was consistent, too, as there were just two games (of 15) where he averaged less than 4.8 yards per carry.

Here’s my detailed scouting report on Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ratings out of five stars):

Vision/Awareness

He didn’t have to face loaded fronts very often, as LSU spread the offense out quite a bit, but you can tell he’s fully aware of where he’s at on the field and where he needs to go. If there’s a hole that’s open on the edge, he won’t simply run directly to it, but rather run up to the defender and juke to the side and hit the hole while no defender is aware it’s even there. That’s a subtle thing that most just don’t do. His vision and awareness don’t just come across while running the ball, but also while running his routes. He has a great understanding of what a defense is trying to do and will stop in a zone that offers his quarterback a safe outlet.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Elusiveness (twitch, juke, tackle-breaking)

There’s not a more elusive running back in this class. He has lateral agility that bigger backs just can’t have. His short and compact frame give him a low center of gravity and he uses it to his advantage quite well. Don’t let broken tackle numbers influence how you feel about a running back’s elusiveness, because when you’re as shifty as Edwards-Helaire is, you aren’t going to need to break many tackles. He does keep his legs churning through contact and did force many defenders to shove him out of bounds rather than bring him to the ground, as his contact balance is great for a player his size.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Size/Speed

Game-speed and long-speed are two different things. While Edwards-Helaire may not have the best long-speed, he has rock-solid game speed. When I say game speed, I’m talking about where 95 percent of the game is played. His burst out of the hole is above-average, as he gets up to speed quickly, even if that speed is capped. Think of it like he’s an 1/8-mile drag car rather than one built to get through the 1/4 mile, as he lacks the fourth gear. His size certainly leaves something to be desired, though it works for his play style.

RATING: ⭐⭐ 1/2

Pass-catching/Pass-protection

He’s a running back who doesn’t have to come off the field. He’s wise when it comes to his route-running and when to cut up field/stop in a zone/improvise, should be considered a big strength to his game. He already has plenty of experience running a variety of routes and can contribute day one. He’s a willing pass-blocker, but that doesn’t mean he does it well. He’s a smaller guy who will get run over if there’s a bigger edge defender/linebacker coming his way, though he does his best to leverage his smaller frame. He wasn’t asked to stay in and block very often, largely in-part to the fact that he’s a rock-solid option in the receiving game.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Versatility

One of the more versatile running backs in this class, as he can line up in an I-formation, as a single back, or in the slot as a receiver. He can play in both zone- and man-blocking schemes and has the endurance to keep up with a fast-paced offense. He may not fit a team who’s looking for a bully-style grinder, but there aren’t many teams who look for that anymore.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Projected Draft Spot

He’s going to go on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, but the question is whether he can make it into the second-round. While watching Edwards-Helaire, I couldn’t stop myself from saying he’s a difference-maker. So, for those who say that running backs don’t matter… Edwards-Helaire definitely does. The ideal landing spot for him would be with a team like the Falcons, who just released Devonta Freeman. Other teams who should show interest include the Bucs, Dolphins, and Chiefs.

NFL Comparison

He’s a mixture of Doug Martin and Ray Rice. Sometimes I think people forget that Doug Martin has multiple 1,400-rushing-yard seasons on his NFL resume, though he wasn’t the skilled pass-catcher that Edwards-Helaire is. That’s where the Rice comparison comes in, as he’s a fantastic receiver out of the backfield. If an NFL team wants him to catch 80 passes a year, he’s more than capable. He also carries an extremely low center of gravity and uses it to the point where he plays bigger than his listed size, similar to Rice.

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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