I have seen numerous mock drafts detailing why the Chiefs should take a running back in the first round. Although they don’t have a Jamaal Charles on the roster they have the law offices of Damien, Darrel and Darwin and a combination of them has gotten the job done to this point. Playoff Damien is a different animal and we have yet to see him in the RB1 for a whole season. But would it surprise me if the Chiefs were planning on taking a back not just in this draft, but in the first round, to boot? Yeah, no. Not happening.
The Chiefs haven’t taken a running back in the first round since they took Larry Johnson in 2003. Since then they have taken Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt in the third round, showing that they know how to scout running back talent and don’t need to take one on the first day. I’ve had people tell me that taking a running back means that they would have given up on Darwin Thompson, but having a good set of talent to choose from at running back is a great thing and can push all of them to be better, just like any position. Competition breeds the best players, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
The third round has been a great spot for the Chiefs in the past, and depending on how the combine goes I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be waiting for the Chiefs there. It would be very hard for them to turn down the talent he brings to the table. The only thing I am waiting to see from him is his 40-yard dash. If he runs faster than 4.5 seconds in his 40 time then there’s a good chance he is gone before the Chiefs have the opportunity in the third. That’s not to say he isn’t fast because he is, and a lot of his speed comes from his burst and acceleration, it makes him deadly from anywhere.
Note how Clyde hesitates in the backfield, given the blocking from the offensive line he has time to force the linebacker into doing something he doesn’t want to do, and that’s wait. That’s when Clyde knows he has the advantage; knowing just where the hole is actually going to be, he gets the linebacker to wait just long enough to where he knows the backer won’t have a chance to stop him. That’s where he hits the B gap and you can see his explosion for yourself. The acceleration he has is impressive and can make good angles into bad ones near the line of scrimmage. Into the endzone he goes, untouched.
It’s not all about speed for a running back, though. Sure, it helps be able to run away from everyone, but getting past everyone is equally as important. Clyde is exceptional at creating yards from the backfield, as we saw in the previous clip. What I mean by that is that he is able to force defenders into advantageous situations for himself and make plays that should go for losses into positive gains.
This is also a great example of using Clyde in goal-to-go situations, LSU is on the five-yard line and still decide to run the football with a “smaller” back. They do so for a few reasons, and one presents itself immediately. The left defensive tackle gets into the A gap quickly, forcing Clyde to look elsewhere for running room. Then he displays some extreme lateral agility in jump-cutting two gaps to the right. There is a corner waiting for him to make his move, then he forces the corner and edge defender to commit to the C gap, which allows him to cut inside the B gap. He breaks a tackle on the linebacker then stays on his feet as he works his way into the end zone.
He displays a multitude of skills in this play, doing it in a short period of time which shows that he can process information quickly and make decisions on the fly. He has great vision while on the move and that in and of itself is enough to make him successful at the next level. We have seen it time and time again: Damien Williams will miss a running lane or get to it too late, for little to no gain. Clyde has that vision that Williams lacks.
There was a ton of talk earlier in the season about how the Chiefs missed Kareem Hunt and needed a back that can make the first guy miss more often. Then the Chiefs went on to win the Super Bowl with Playoff Damien in full effect. But having a back that will make guys miss in the backfield on the regular is something that’s useful. Darwin Thompson has showcased that ability to some degree, but Clyde is a different animal.
Watching him at full speed is incredible by itself, but going back through these clips in slow motion is sometimes even better. The linebacker reads the play coming off the left end of the offensive line, and as Clyde gets back to the line of scrimmage he sucks the backer in and jump cuts out of the way with no loss of momentum. From there he accelerates into the open field and then lowers his shoulder into the defender. He became a much more physical runner in 2019 and was difficult to bring down on numerous occasions. He isn’t afraid to get physical.
Now is where we get to witness the quickness he has and how much fun he is to watch. I know most of you all play Madden, and one of my personal favorite moves in that is the spin move. I won’t even break this down because I think the way he destroys this would-be tackler speaks for itself.
Everything he does makes him a complete running back and I know most of you are wondering about this because the Chiefs love to throw the football, but yes, he is one of the best receiving backs in the 2020 draft class, possibly the best. He really can do it all and makes a perfect fit for this offense.
This is easily one of the most impressive things I’ve seen from him. The way he processes information comes into play here, once again. He breaks down the defender, forcing him to over-commit to the outside, then he breaks back inside, coming open cleanly. As he catches the ball, he feels another defender coming in from his left and seamlessly puts him in the spin cycle. Then he accelerates into space and makes the original defender miss one more time, just for good measure, before being taken down from behind. He is just so slippery and dangerous from anywhere on the field.
I know there is a good majority of you that thinks the Chiefs should wait to take a running back or even take the best player available even if that is a running back in higher rounds. But I, as well as a few others whose opinions I greatly respect, believe he is the best fit for this offense. The Chiefs don’t have a huge number of picks this draft but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading down to acquire more.
If Clyde is there in the third round, it will be hard for the Chiefs to turn down what he brings to the table. He is my favorite running back in this draft and makes the most sense for the future. Be sure to watch him at the combine, it’s going to be fun.