There’s quite a bit of buzz surrounding LSU RB prospect Clyde Edwards-Helaire. While most people are looking at D’Andre Swift, JK Dobbins, or Jonathan Taylor as the top prospect in this RB draft class, Edwards-Helaire has been getting his fair share of recognition from a handful of talent evaluators as well. Several have him neck-and-neck with the other 3 mentioned, with some even ranking him as RB1. And he’s even drawing comparisons to former Eagles great, Brian Westbrook.
Why exactly is he so highly regarded? What makes him standout amongst the others?
Below is my full scouting report on Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Grading Scale (from best to worst):
Name: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Height: 5 feet, 7 2/8th inches
Weight: 207 lbs
Arm: 29 inches
Wingspan: 70 5/8th inches
College Team: LSU
Mental Processing: Elite. Comprehensive understanding of multiple schemes and play designs. Execution is nearly flawless, and it is rare to see him make a mental mistake. Situational awareness is high. Always aware of down and distance and will make the correct decision to pick up the first down.
Vision: Elite. It’s a treat watching him work behind the line of scrimmage. Patient and efficient footwork in his post-snap path. Knows how to go about his approach depending on the play call. Sets up blocks by anticipating their leverage and marrying his path with theirs. Constantly wins to the edge, not with speed, but by drawing defenders inside and then creating an advantageous angle to the outside.
LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire #NFLDraft does it all up top 🧠🧠
🔸His responsibilities on DUO (his best concept)
🔸How he blocks unblocked defenders by himself
🔸Moving rapidly from angle to angle to generate chunk plays
Doesn’t get niftier than this dude! pic.twitter.com/Djy3NM5luR
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) February 17, 2020
Burst: Great. Can go from stationary to full speed in no time. Explodes through running lanes and will get to the second level before defenders can see him, partly due to his height. Lateral explosion jumps out more than vertical explosion. Jukes and cuts cover a good amount of ground. Gets from one gap to another and creates space between him and defenders very quickly.
Agility: Elite. Low center of gravity and active feet enable him to string moves together in space and tight quarters. Will stop on a dime and cut back against the grain to expose over-pursuing defenders. Uses an arsenal of moves and is very difficult to bring down in space. Elusiveness comes from him being crafty and creative as much as it comes from his athletic ability. His jukes are sudden and sharp, and his spin move is deadly. Only downside is that he can try to do too much at times when engaging with defenders in space, resulting in wasted opportunities.
Power: Good. Don’t let his stature fool you; he runs with a physical nature and will drag you if you don’t bring it. Keeps his pad level low and uses his natural leverage and leg drive to gain yards after contact. Surprisingly effective in short-yardage situations. His power and strength aren’t overwhelming but he knows how and when to use them. Tackle attempts to his upper body are almost always rendered useless.
Contact Balance: Great. Short stature makes it hard to get a powerful shot on him. When he’s running with momentum and a low center of gravity, he absorbs contact at different angles effectively. Tackle attempts where defenders try to spin and throw him down have resulted in him staying upright and continuing forward for more yards.
Top-End Speed: Solid. Long speed is the weakest part of his game. Burst through the hole and when stringing together moves is great but 3rd gear is almost non-existent. Big plays may be limited at the pro level as he fails to pull away from DBs at the 2nd and 3rd levels.
Ball Security: Great. Fumbled twice in 2019 and lost one of them. Impressive numbers considering his running style and penchant for constantly fighting through contact.
Receiving: Elite. Receiving skills are already very polished. Shows natural hands and snares the ball away from his body comfortably. Will have a drop on occasion but will also impress with some difficult catches. Smooth as he turns up-field after the catch. Doesn’t second guess himself when transitioning from the catch point to becoming a runner, which prevents any wasted movement. Always makes himself available as the check-down option or hot read. Mismatch nightmare against second-level defenders. Displays outstanding ability to separate and is nearly un-guardable on angle or option routes. Uses quickness, pacing, and leverage to get open. Finds soft spots in zones when running intermediate and deep routes. Very good feel for timing and spacing on screens and his vision as a runner comes into play on said screens.
@Clydro_22 versatility and ability as a receiver are second to none in this RB class.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) March 4, 2020
Like that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is coordinated enough to keep his shoulders squared to LOS while catching the ball
Some RBs would panic and spin and wouldn’t be able to run after
Also, that MOVE 😱 pic.twitter.com/mXJidnqsZy
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) February 10, 2020
Pass Blocking: Solid. Wasn’t asked to stay in and pass protect often as he was utilized as a receiver so often. Showed the awareness and desire to block in the limited reps on tape.
Fitness/Durability: Good. Took on an increased workload in 2019 and didn’t seem to wear down late in games. Injured hamstring during practice before the College Football Playoff Semi-Final game against Oklahoma and was questionable to play leading up to it. Ended up playing but only had 2 carries for 14 yards.
Competitive Intangibles: Elite. LSU Team Captain. Has come up big in clutch situations (i.e. vs Alabama). Shows relentlessness and fearlessness in the way he runs. High-effort player and will never stop fighting for extra yardage.
— Charles “Chux” Maranan (@ChuxMaranan) March 4, 2020
Pro Comparison: A mix of Brian Westbrook and Devonta Freeman. Possesses the agility, receiving ability, IQ, and vision of Westbrook while having the power, balance, relentlessness, and build of Freeman.
Projection: Voted the LSU team MVP for this past season, Edwards-Helaire is a versatile weapon that can excel in any offensive scheme at the pro level. What he lacks in top-end speed he makes up for in everything else. He can force missed tackles with both elusiveness and physicality and possesses standout vision and footwork behind the line of scrimmage. His receiving skillset is second to none in this draft class. He’s as skilled a football player at the RB position as you’ll find and projects to be a great player in the NFL for many years.