The Talent Was/Is There
For all of the handwringing around taking a halfback in the first round, even those who didn’t appreciate the positional choice were wowed by the skillset of Edwards-Helaire.
First, it speaks volumes that Brett Veach and a talented front office signed off on the pick in the first place. Second, Patrick Mahomes himself said to make the pick, and former LSU teammate Joe Burrow (now with the Cincinnati Bengals) swears that CEH was the most talented athlete on a loaded national championship team back in 2019.
Even when the Chiefs drafted him, the label applied by many outsiders was how “unfair” the pick was for the Chiefs offense—that the addition of such a talented all-round player was only going to make a historic offense even better. While those predictions haven’t come to fruition in his first two seasons, it also doesn’t mean Edwards-Helaire is already some lost cause.
In Edwards-Helaire’s first season, there was at least a solid showing of production even if it wasn’t as flashy as, say, other recent debuts like Kareem Hunt. Even in that first year, however, there were questions about his usage—namely, why weren’t the Chiefs throwing him the ball?
When Edwards-Helaire entered the draft, he did so with the momentum of being called the draft’s best pass-catching back. He was supposed to provide yet another dependable target for Mahomes, one which would force defenses to respect the team’s ability to utilize the screen game or threaten in space underneath. Instead, the Chiefs threw to him far less than expected, including only three receptions in two postseason games.
The receiving numbers were even worse for CEH in his sophomore season in which he earned only 12 receiving yards per game and averaged just under 2 receptions. In 10 games, he only 138 touches after losing opportunities to Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon while trying to get and stay healthy.