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2020 NFL Draft: Clyde Edwards-Helaire projects as a good player and bad value for the Chiefs

With the 32nd and final pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs selected running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU.


The Chiefs — the third-most efficient offense in the NFL a season ago in expected points added on all downs and the fifth-most efficient on early downs — went with running back with their premier pick, despite having the aforementioned success with undrafted journeyman Damien Williams (0.12 WAR), veteran castoff LeSean McCoy (0.07), sixth-round rookie Darwin Thompson (0.01) and Darrel Williams (0.03) at the position.

Against one of the best defenses in the NFL a season ago in the Super Bowl, the former Williams ran for over 100 yards on just 17 carries and caught the game-winning touchdown, taking full advantage of the space afforded to him by Patrick Mahomes and others.

[Editor’s note: Check out PFF’s 2020 Mock Draft Hub, NFL Draft Big Board and NFL Mock Draft Simulator. PFF Elite subscribers can also download the 1,250-page 2020 NFL Draft Guide. For extensive coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft, check out all of PFF’s 2020 NFL Draft coverage in one place.]

Assuming he plays as much as Damien Williams did in 2019, Edwards-Helaire projects to be a good running back at the NFL level, with raw projected wins above replacement of 0.13 as a rookie and over a 15% chance to become an All-Pro in that offense before the conclusion of his rookie deal.

His comps include Dalvin Cook and Le’ Veon Bell, but also the Chiefs’ productive street free agent, Spencer Ware. His broken-tackle rate is well above what you would expect from a running back during the rookie-deal part of his career and is enhanced by the likelihood that he’ll play a significant number of snaps against medium or light boxes with the Chiefs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s projected yards per carry and broken-tackle rate in an environment where 95% of his runs come against a medium or light box. Vertical dashed lines represent median performance among players drafted from 2015 on.

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