Round 1 – Pick 32 – Clyde Edwards-Helaire – RB – LSU
The Chiefs started their draft by taking LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the last pick of the first round. Last season Helaire had 215 carries for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns and 55 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown. The top four running backs in this class have been very evenly ranked overall. While CEH wasn’t the unanimous top running back in this class, he was definitely part of the conversation. That having been said, he does seem to be the consensus best fit for the Chiefs offense of all the top running backs in this class.
Before we have the “taking a running back in the first round” discussion, let’s look at what a couple of sources had to say about Edwards-Helaire.
Despite most analytics being against running backs value, the Pro Football Focus Draft Guide (a great resource) had this interesting tidbit:
"Not only was he the most valuable running back in college football in PFF’s wins above average (WAA), but he was the 13th most valuable player regardless of position and third most valuable non-quarterback."
When looking at his fit with the Chiefs the KC Draft Guide (a must buy from our friends at Arrowhead Pride) had this to say about his fit in KC:
"Giving Andy Reid a player with the versatility Edwards-Helaire possesses would be a terrifying proposition for opposing defenses. Because he can be asked to line up out wide and run routes, execute the screen game at a high level, run the football with success between the tackles and make people miss in space – the Chiefs would get the most out of Edwards-Helaire if they invested in him."
The question here appears not to be if Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a great player and a great fit for the Chiefs. Those two things seem to be universally agreed upon. In the spirit of complete honesty, I was firmly in the “drafting a running back in the first round is horrible value” camp entering the draft. If you asked me to give my value grade right after the pick was made it would have been a “F”. However, after seeing how the draft played out, I have to swallow my pride a little and acknowledge that Brett Veach may have read the room well.
When the Chiefs were on the clock for their first pick the vast majority of Chiefs fans (myself included) were clamoring for one of the cornerbacks like Kristian Fulton, Jaylon Johnson, or Trevon Diggs with linebacker Zack Baun as the next most common name mentioned. Others like myself may have had other individuals they liked (for me it was A.J. Epenesa), but I think the corners and Baun were the clear favorites. I think we all assumed that those players would be seen as much more valuable commodities than Edwards-Helaire because of both their talent and positional value. That’s not what the draft results ended up showing us.
After the Chiefs selected CEH, none of those players I just listed went off the board in the next 17 picks. Not one. The first to go was Jaylon Johnson at pick 50 and Zack Baun didn’t end up going until pick 74 in the early third round. The NFL as a whole simply didn’t value those players like we did. You know what they did value? Running backs. After the Chiefs selected CEH, five other running backs came off the board before the Chiefs picked in the second round. (A.J. Dillon?) So not only were the corners (and Baun/Epenesa) not as valued as we expected, but the running backs in this class were much more coveted than we expected.
Now, does that mean that I’m willing to give the pick an “A” for value? No, there’s just too much information out there that shows that you can find similar production later in the draft, especially when compared to other positions. That having been said, it appears the NFL as a whole felt that several of the running backs in this class were more valuable than the defensive players many of us coveted. That’s why my value grade won’t be as low as my initial beliefs were.
As we already stated, CEH perfectly fits what the Chiefs are looking for, so that grade will be high. Damien Williams has done enough that he may still enter the season as the starter, but there was still a need to improve at running back and CEH has a good chance to make an impact as a rookie and should be the clear every down starter the following season. The long-term upside grade gets a minor hit due to the questions surrounding giving a running back a second contract.
Draft Slot Value Grade: C+
Fit With Chiefs Grade: A+
Need/Immediate Impact Grade: B+
Long Term Upside Grade: B+
Overall Pick Grade: B+
Now let’s look at K.C.’s second round selection.