Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
(percentile rank among all RBs at Combine since 1999, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.60 seconds (33rd percentile)
Vertical: 39.5 inches (91st)
Broad: 10’3 (80th)
20-yard shuttle: n/a
(LSU will have its Pro Day March 22.)
A Baton Rouge native, Edwards-Helaire took the obvious step of committing to LSU over offers from Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati and Southern Miss. That followed a high school career he finished as the nation’s #5 all-purpose back and began as the first 9th-grader to play varsity in the 29-year career of his coach at Catholic High. That feat gets a little more impressive when you realize that Coach Dale Weiner’s tenure sent 8 other guys to the NFL, including Warrick Dunn and Derrius Guice.
At LSU, Edwards-Helaire played sparingly as a true freshman in a backfield led by Guice and Darrel Williams (plus XFLer Nick Brossette). The frosh did serve as lead kick returner, though.
Sophomore year found Edwards-Helaire averaging a career-high 24.5 yards per (5th in the conference) and leading the Tigers in all-purpose yards. He climbed to 2nd -- behind Brossette -- in the LSU backfield but remained a minimal receiving factor.
Edwards-Helaire exploded all over the place in 2019, though. He gobbled up 58.3% of the team’s RB carries and even ranked 3rd among all Tigers in receptions. CEH ranked 2nd in the SEC in rushing yards, 4th in yards per carry, 1st in rushing scores and 1st in yards from scrimmage.
He topped 100 rushing yards in 6 of 9 SEC contests and racked up 43 receptions over the final 8 games. Edwards-Helaire capped his season with a 16-110 rushing line and 5-54 receiving in the championship-game win over Clemson.
Beyond the traditional numbers, Pro Football Focus graded him tops in rushing among all draft-eligible RBs nationally. PFF also found him the most valuable RB in the nation by its wins above average metric, the 13th most valuable player at any position and the 3rd most valuable non-QB.
(Courtesy of WhatsOnDraftNFL)
Games watched: Florida 2018, Georgia 2018, Louisiana Tech 2018, Alabama 2019, Auburn 2019, Georgia 2019
The 1st thing you’re going to notice with this guy is his short-area quickness. Edwards-Helaire has great feet and enviable agility. That manifests in an arsenal of tackle-eluding moves.
OK. But you got a stiff arm?
You might look at CEH’s height and think NFL complementary back, but the guy looks thick and strong. He hits the league at basically the same size as Aaron Jones, Devonta Freeman and Maurice Jones-Drew, among others.
Edwards-Helaire doesn’t look like the speediest back and didn’t seek opportunities to bounce runs outside in the games I watched. He looks comfortable attacking the middle and quickly hitting available seams.
The 20-year-old -- until April 11 -- can accelerate quickly, though.
He didn’t specialize in long runs over the 6 games I watched, and the mere 4.6-second 40 time at the Combine helps to explain why.
Beyond the speed knocks, you’ll find multiple analysts criticizing his pass protection. Edwards-Helaire was a willing blocker in the games I watched, though he could certainly use some work in that area. Specifically, he loved to cut-block rushing defenders. That’s a move athletic NFL edge players can easily deal with.
But how much will that matter? Among the top 50 NFL RBs in PFF pass-blocking grade last season, just 11 also ranked top 50 in pass-blocking opportunities. And among the top 87 RBs in pass-blocking snaps, only 28 graded well in that area.
Besides, Edwards-Helaire’s receiving ability will make him tough to take off the field in passing situations. You’ve already seen the 2019 numbers above. NFL teams saw enough to request that he work out with the WRs as well as the RBs at the Combine. And LSU commonly split him out wide in spread formations.
Nearly all of the receptions I saw came via typical RB routes. But here’s a targeted deeper route against Alabama last season (albeit from out of the backfield).
More important than where his targets come or where he lines up, though, is how comfy CEH looks catching the ball and turning to run. Watch him easily haul in a low throw here and then turn upfield and plow through a couple of defenders to pick up the 1st down ...
According to PFF's Scott Barrett, this is the full list of SEC players to score 100+ rushing fantasy points and receiving fantasy points in the same season since 2000:
That speaks to the value that Edwards-Helaire’s receiving ability brings. And it’s not as though the 2019 Tigers needed to feed him for lack of options.
While we're talking fantasy production, though, let's also acknowledge that Edwards-Helaire got 15 games in the nation's top offense in both points and yards per game. He checked in just 9th among this class' RBs in 2019 PPR points per game:
Jonathan Taylor -- 29.1
J.K. Dobbins -- 27.6
Cam Akers -- 25.0
A.J. Dillon -- 24.3
Zack Moss -- 23.9
Eno Benjamin -- 23.7
LeVante Bellamy -- 23.5
Darrynton Evans -- 23.3
Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- 22.9
CEH looks like an intriguing combo of strong between-the-tackles running and fluid receiving. I’ve seen him compared with Devonta Freeman, Ray Rice, Devin Singletary and Mark Ingram -- and thought of Ingram, but with more moves -- as I watched him. That sets a solid range for what Edwards-Helaire could be in the right spot. It also represents a wide range of potential NFL Draft positions:
Ingram -- Round 1, 28th overall
Rice -- Round 2, 55th
Singletary -- Round 3, 74th
Freeman -- Round 4, 103rd
Edwards-Helaire looks like a Round 3 NFL Draft pick, with a shot to go in Round 2. Expect him to be a Round 1 pick in dynasty drafts, though, with the potential to contribute quickly.