After a breakthrough junior season, Edwards-Helaire has seen his draft stock rise
Among running backs, one of the fastest risers in the 2020 NFL Draft class going back to the start of the '19 college football season is LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire. After seeing limited opportunities in his first two seasons, Edwards-Helaire took full advantage of an increased workload and provided the primary ground element throughout the Tigers' historic national championship campaign. Edwards-Helaire's performance now has him in prime position to be an early-round draft pick in late April.
Clyde Helaire-Edwards Draft Profile
Edwards-Helaire is short but by no means small, with a compact build and a low center of gravity that make him difficult to get on the ground. He runs with the kind of contact balance that allows him to bounce off tacklers, and he has the twitch and quickness to pick up a chunk of yardage after he’s broken a tackle. He moves with a nice tempo approaching the line of scrimmage, with the ability to go 0-to-60 quickly once he spots his hole, and he has excellent vision, with the patience to wait the extra beat if he needs to for his blocks to develop. His fluid hips allow him to change directions without having to gear down. And he has a wonderful feel for setting up defenders at the second level, whether it’s a hesitation move or other improvisation to get them off-balance. And when he has to, he will lower his pads and deliver a blow to finish a run. He’s strong in the passing game, very good transitioning to a runner on screen plays and capable of running an expanded route tree — LSU often flexed him out as a chess piece. He’ll also put in the work as a pass protector.
Does Edwards-Helaire have a third gear to run away from defenders at the NFL level? We’ll see how he holds up at the next level at his size; 2019 was his only season with a full-time workload, and he was banged up by the playoff, including a hamstring problem.
There are minor durability concerns, but Edwards-Helaire is at least a lead back in a committee, if not a workhorse. His ability to create as a runner and receiver and his versatility to fit in any blocking scheme make him a potential star.
Final Grade: 1st/2nd round