Many were pounding the table for LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire to join the Kansas City Chiefs — but not in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Heck, I pegged him as a second-round pick in my own scouting report, then doubled down on it in my mock draft. His lack of elite top-end speed, combined with a poor showing at the combine, seemed to lock him in as a day-two selection. If there’s one thing Chiefs fans have learned about general manager Brett Veach, though, it’s that he strikes when he sees a golden opportunity.
This pick didn’t come without drawbacks. The pool of defensive talent left on the board, including names like Kristian Fulton, Xavier McKinney, Yetur Gross-Matos, A.J. Epenesa and others, was terrific. Taking a cornerback seemed like a slam-dunk with Fulton still available, yet Veach went with a running back. Although the value at 32 is iffy, the fit couldn’t have been better.
Edwards-Helaire has a rare blend of so many desirable skills. Contact balance, short-area burst, agility and grit, just to name a few. Oh yeah, he can also line up out wide and catch passes. If you were to build an Andy Reid-type running back in a factory, you’d build someone similar to Edwards-Helaire. He can do a little bit of everything and while he’s just 5’7”, his heart simply cannot be measured.
Remember how flat-out ridiculous the Chiefs’ offense was with Kareem Hunt in the backfield? Things should soon return to that level of controlled chaos. Opposing defenses will be forced to pick their poison when Edwards-Helaire, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman are on the field. With Patrick Mahomes leading the charge, the NFL’s most dynamic attack just got even better.
As the Chiefs prepare for the second and third rounds on Friday night, cornerback and/or linebacker have to be areas of emphasis. Bigtime pieces like Trevon Diggs, Jaylon Johnson and Bryce Hall are still available and ready to help improve NFL secondaries, but they may fly off the board early in the evening. Under-the-radar prospects such as Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither are probably the best bet linebacker-wise. The Chiefs have options.
Veach has already raved about the depth in this year’s draft. Over the last few seasons, he’s earned as much slack as any executive in football. He’ll address other positions at some point this weekend. Being upset about a first-round running back is completely fair. Edwards-Helaire likely would have been available several picks later. With that said, Mahomes and Reid now have another electric weapon to work with. The Chiefs have their running back of the present and future. Look at the glass as half-full. Maybe you’ll grow to like the move.