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Kansas City Chiefs select Clyde Edwards-Helaire with 32nd pick in first round

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Photo courtesy of LSU athletics.

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the newest Kansas City Chief.

The reigning Super Bowl champions selected Edwards-Helaire with the final pick of the first round in this year’s NFL draft. In his junior season at LSU, he ran for 1,414 yards on 215 carries (6.6 yards per carry) and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground. He also caught 55 passes for 453 yards and a score. Those 1,414 yard are the third most in a single season in LSU history.

A permanent team captain for the Tigers in 2019, Edwards-Helaire had seven 100-yard rushing games in his final season as a Tiger, including 16 carries for 110 yards against Clemson in the National Championship Game.

The biggest game of his junior season came against Arkansas on Nov. 23 when he rushed just six times for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

He was just a one-year starter for LSU but still finished his college career with 2,123 yards rushing, and was named the team’s MVP over Heisman Trophy winner and first-overall pick Joe Burrow. He was also the first running back selected in this year’s draft.

Edwards-Helaire said during his first media session after being picked that he thinks he fits in well with Kansas City’s offense.

“Just how the versatile the offense is,” Edwards-Helaire said. “And they’re big on being able to get the running back out in space, and I feel like that was where I absolutely thrived.”

His receiving ability in particular is a valuable said for the Chiefs’ offense, who rely on backs who can do more than just run in a traditional sense. For Edwards-Helaire, he said he developed the ability to be a receiving threat before he even reached LSU.

“I think it started early on, me being a receiving back in high school,” Edwards-Helaire said. “I was on the same team as [Washington Redskins running back] Derrius Guice in high school, and him being on the field his junior and senior year was a must In high school, so I had to find a way to get on the field.”

This is the Chiefs’ first first-round pick since trading up to take Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick in 2017. Edwards-Helaire is the first running back taken in the first round by Kansas City since Larry Johnson in 2003.

While Kansas City is bringing back its leading rusher from last year, Damien Williams, general manager Brett Veach said on Thursday that he sees his newest draft pick as an instant-impact player.

“You need to identify weaknesses and find really good players that you know are going to come in and play right away,” Veach said. “Clyde was a guy, high football IQ, high football character, dynamic playmaker who can step in right away and we have him under contract for five years.”

Lance Zierlien of NFL.com said in Edwards-Helaire’s draft profile that he compares to former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman and considered him a second-round prospect. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network complimented Edwards-Helaire on his vision, footwork and balance in his profile, adding “projects as a lead back at the NFL level.”

Edwards-Helaire was not selected in Brendan Dzwierzynski’s final three-round mock draft, and was 44th-ranked prospect on the 580 Sports Talk composite big board.

Reaction toward Edwards-Helaire’s ability and fit with the Chiefs was praised following the pick.

Kansas City has four more picks in this year’s draft, starting with the 63rd-overall selection near the end of the second round.

Click below to hear from Edwards-Helaire and Veach after Day 1 of the 2020 NFL draft:

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Brett Veach

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