Second-Year Jump: How Does Darwin Thompson's Role Change With Clyde Edwards-Helaire?
Mark Van Sickle
Darwin Thompson, a running back out of Utah State, was taken in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Known as a small guy with a strong frame, he seemed like a worthy flier late in the draft, especially since the Chiefs running back room was thinned out. Unfortunately, in his rookie season, he didn’t get a lot of opportunities and looked underwhelming when given the chance. I do not anticipate a second-year jump for Darwin Thompson and there are a few reasons why I’ve come to that conclusion.
He wasn’t used very much last season, toting the rock 37 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. He added nine catches for 43 yards. He had one big chance in the Super Bowl, getting a carry from the one-yard line in the first quarter with a chance to put the first points of the game on the board. He was stuffed for no gain. Fortunately, the Chiefs were able to score on the next play thanks to a Patrick Mahomes option keeper. However, that was Thompson’s only carry of the game and was perhaps a foreshadowing of a nail in the coffin on his Chiefs career.
The Chiefs have a couple of veterans returning, including starter Damien Williams and back up Darrel Williams. These two were ahead of Thompson on the depth chart last year and, despite injuries to both players, Thompson still wasn’t able to carve out any sort of role for himself down the stretch. To make matters worse for Thompson this offseason, the Chiefs used their first pick of the 2020 draft on former LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Thompson and Edwards-Helaire are built similarly in a physical sense, but being a first-round selection holds a lot of weight. Edwards-Helaire will be given every opportunity to take over the starting role during the season and if he isn’t starting, the belief is he will be given the majority of snaps to compliment Damien Williams.
Despite the optimism coming out of training camp and preseason in 2019, Thompson wasn’t able to use that momentum to push himself into any sort of meaningful role for the rest of the season. For 2020, his ceiling seems destined to be capped by his rookie season statistics. The way things shook out this offseason, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Thompson be cut before the season starts. There doesn’t look to be a great opportunity for a second-year jump.