PRO 2020 Rookie Spotlight: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB LSU

Rookie Spotlight: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Louisiana State University
Height: 5’7 1/4” (official)
Weight: 207 lbs (official)
Hands: 9 5/8”
Arm: 29”
40 yard dash: 4.6 (official)
NFL Comparison: Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ameer Abdullah

– shows patience waiting for blocks
– agility in tight spaces
– protects the ball
– great vision
– big, soft hands
– excellent route runner
– uses low center of gravity to finish runs with power
– voted team MVP on the greatest CFB offense in history
– described by Joe Burrow as the best player he’s ever been around

– lacks top end speed
– questionable pass protection
– small catch radius

2019 Team Market Share Numbers

44% rush attempts
13% receptions
22% total offensive yards
18% offensive TDs

Scouting Notes: Clyde Edwards-Helaire has few weak spots. If he was a couple inches taller, he’d be one of the top RB prospects in the draft this year – And I haven’t forgotten about his 4.6 forty time either. Yes, 4.6 is a pedestrian time, in the football world at least, but straight line speed isn’t necessarily a metric that makes or breaks a running back. Rarely do you get opportunities to run in a straight line for the entirety, or even majority, of a play as a back. Only 4 of the top 10 RBs last year ran forties under 4.5, so it’s not a definitely not a death sentence, especially given that CEH tested well in the other drills as a 69th-percentile SPARQ athlete. CEH is still a considerable athlete who jumped 39.5” (3rd for RBs) vertically and 123” (9th for RBs) horizontally at the NFL Combine, in addition to showing soft hands in catching drills.

As a runner, CEH is patient at waiting for his lanes, where he powers through with low pad level. He’s not the most powerful runner, but he finishes runs with pop and keeps his feet moving. Equally agile and evasive, CEH displays acute vision finding the soft spots in the defense. With only 370 carries during his time at LSU, he’s relatively fresh, though he was productive with the touches he received – He carried the ball 215 times for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 55 passes for 453 yards and one score in 2019. Per PFF, there are two sides to the story of CEH’s elusiveness. He was sixth in the nation with .33 missed tackles generated per carry which is clearly elite and shows an ability to generate on his own. However, he did receive a lot of help from his OL as he had the seventh-highest yards before contact number at 3.01 yards, showing that he certainly benefitted from his surrounding cast.

As a pass catcher, CEH rivals D’Andre Swift as a route runner and caught considerably more balls. He doesn’t have a wide catch radius, but his hands are significantly large (9 ⅝”) for his size. It helps when you have Joe Burrow throwing you the ball, but even Burrow claimed that CEH was the best athlete on the team. His blocking was serviceable in college, but CEH didn’t do it a ton, and his competition is going to be significantly bigger and faster at the next level, so this is really where his size might hurt him as far as keeping him on the field.

Fantasy Outlook: It’s true that backs his size have had a hard time sticking as 3-down backs in the NFL, but CEH has a better shot than most, as he’s useful in power and zone formations in addition to his receiving prowess. There is also more and more buzz that CEH could go earlier in the NFL draft than expected. He has the acumen and physical ability to work his way into a starting role in the NFL, and in the correct landing spot, he could be an extremely valuable piece not only in dynasty but also for redraft leagues in 2020. If he’s available in mid-to-late RD1 of your 1QB rookie draft, you should feel safe pulling the trigger on CEH.

From the LSU Athletic Department

2019 LSU Football MVP
2019 LSU Permanent Team Captain
2019 All-SEC First Team (AP, unanimous; Coaches)
2019 Paul Hornung Award Finalist
SEC Offensive Player of the Week (at Alabama)

Limited in the Oklahoma game due to a leg injury … Played sparingly against the Sooners, rushing for 14 yards on two carries … Expected to be at full strength for the National Championship contest … Started first 13 games of season at running back … First team All-SEC and a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in college football … Had one of the most outstanding all-around seasons for a running back in school history with 1,304 rushing yards and 16 TDs to go along with 50 catches for 399 yards and a score … Named LSU’s MVP at the team’s awards banquet on December 16 … Led SEC in rushing TDs (16) and finished No. 2 in the league in rushing yards … Fourth in SEC in rushing yards per game (99.23) … Tied LSU single-season record for receptions by a running back with 50 (Garry James, 1985) … Rushed for 100 or more yards six times, all coming in SEC games … LSU is 6-0 in those games … Went over the 2,000-yard mark for his career against Oklahoma … Has rushed for 2,001 yards in career, ranking No. 17 in school history … The 20th player in LSU history to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground in a season … Went over the 1,000-yard mark on a career-long 89-yard TD run against Arkansas … The 89-yard run was the fifth-longest in school history … Totaled 118 all-purpose yards in the SEC Championship game with 61 yards receiving and 57 coming on the ground … Finished with 87 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 18 carries against Texas A&M … Set a career high for rushing yards with 188 yards and matched his high for touchdowns with three on just six attempts against Arkansas … Rushed for a then career-high 172 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts at Ole Miss … Named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after totaling 103 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on 20 carries at Alabama … Also had nine receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Crimson Tide … Ran for 136 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts against No. 9 Auburn … Scored from six yards out with 4:58 left in the third quarter to give the Tigers the lead for good … Against No. 7 Florida, rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for an average of 10.3 yards per attempt … Ripped off runs of 10, 57 and 39 against the Gators … Scored on a 39-yard run in the first half and 5-yard run in the second half against Florida … Finished with 72 yards on 14 attempts against Utah State … Surpassed 100 yards for the third time in his career with 106 yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts at Vanderbilt … Rushed for 50 yards and career-high two touchdowns on 13 attempts against Northwestern State … Totaled 87 yards on 15 attempts against Texas … Scored a crucial 12-yard touchdown against UT with 9:58 remaining in the fourth quarter to extend LSU’s lead to 9 … Started his first career game in the season opener against Georgia Southern and was LSU’s leading rusher with 45 yards and one touchdown on nine carries.

Quotable from the Combine:

Q: What does it mean to you when Joe Burrow’s asked, ‘Who is the best player you’ve ever played with, at Ohio State and LSU?’ And he says you?

A: “It means the world. Especially with him being my friend. Him coming in and coming from Ohio, we kinda clicked initially. Not initially like on the field. I wasn’t the starter. But, being able to ultimately have a friend off the field. And now, we ended up getting to this point. For him to say those words, it’s very special, especially him having the season that he had and this team having the amazing season that we had. I mean, it just means the world.”

Q: Who was the toughest player you faced this year one-on-one?

A: “One-on-one? I’ll say Derrick Brown. [Auburn DT] He was pretty much doing whatever he wanted to do. And that’s pretty much the nature of the SEC. He just pops out on film, and then ultimately in a game, he’s somebody I pretty much always had my eyes on, especially in run plays and ultimately knowing how fast he was coming off the ball and his whole presence on that defense was felt.”

Q: Several of your teammates have pulled out from working out this week. Are you going to work out this week?

A: “Yes I’m working out.”

Q: What’s the biggest myth about your game that you want to answer at the combine?

A: “I had mentors early on, especially like freshman, sophomore year. But ultimately I feel like every question was answered this year. Every week it was always something, ‘Does he have breakaway speed?’ And then bust an 80-yard touchdown. ‘Can he make a guy miss?’ Made plenty of guys miss. ‘Is he going to show up Bama game?’ Ultimately, all the questions were answered, so I feel like my resume is all checked out.”

Q: Damien Lewis said you became a legend after that Alabama game? Talk to me about that.

A: “Being from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that’s the thing. Playing Bama, that’s something you grew up thinking about. And all those guys that I watched growing up, I mean, seeing the looks, even if it’s media, after losing to Bama and that whole 9 yards. It struck a fire in me, especially when I didn’t get the opportunity to do the things I wanted to the first two years playing them. So when I got the opportunity to start, I wanted to make my presence felt. That was something I pride myself on. Ultimately being from Baton Rouge and not doing it for myself, but doing it for those guys who are currently on the team and the guys who were previously there, I think I made a lot of guys from that team proud and ultimately Louisiana.”

Q: What have teams said they like about your game?

A: “The fact that I can do everything. I can do first down, second down, third down. I was pretty much the guy as far as what they wanted all-around. You need me to run the ball in between the tackles. They say I’m small, but ultimately I just think I’m a little shorter. I weighed in at 207 and I played in between 210 and 215 last year. Ultimately, they like everything about it and I want to put that on display. I put it on display this past season. I know I’ll do it in the next level.

Q: Something about getting better while not playing many reps before senior season

A: “This game is all about mental reps. Being able to mentally get those things done. My freshman year was a huge learning curve, but I was able to learn from Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams and ultimately Nick Brossette. Those were the three guys that I was behind. Even the things at practice, they were critiquing me on things and they weren’t even in the drill that I was in. My sophomore year, I was able to get some quality touches. And then I touched the ball in some real intense games my sophomore year. So ultimately, everything was behind the scenes as far as my growth, especially this past summer and the summer before. I kinda honed in on the things that I needed to work on from film study all the way in to in-game adjustments was something I pride myself on.”

Q: Something about pass protection. Running backs, they get a bad rep as far as blocking

A: “Yeah always. Pretty much being able to identify who you need to block, that’s the number one key. Always. Understanding displacement on our o-line and understanding who the o-line was working up to. Those things in that nature. When you watch film, 85% of our offense was five-man protection, so I was rarely in it, but it’s something that T-Rob (Tommie Robinson), my running back coach and ultimately Kevin Faulk. We talked about it and we worked on it. It was something that we did every day at practice. Wasn’t always in the game, but practicing and bein gable to get those reps against the linebackers that we played against, Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen, and those guys who [are] still at LSU currently. We did pass pro every day. It was something I worked on every day.”

Q: Kevin Faulk was promoted to LSU’s running backs coach here this week [after Tommie Robinson left for Texas A&M]. How excited are you for him?

A: “I couldn’t be more excited for him. You know, I’ve been able to pretty much kinda know his background. My stepdad’s from Lafayette (Louisiana) and he’s from Lafayette, and just understanding the whole nature of everything Kevin’s been through his whole life and everything that he’s achieved. I think this is one, out of all the things that he’s done, I think this is something that he really wanted to do — be able to come back, come to LSU, and coach guys who was in his spot or who’s currently in his spot, and ultimately try to get them to the next level. I think this is something that he wanted to get accomplished.”

Q: Have you met with the Chiefs yet?

A: “Yes, sir, I did.”

Q: What do you think about looking at that offense with Patrick Mahomes and all those playmakers. What would it be like for you if that’s where you landed?

A: “Ultimately it’ll be a dream come true. And, you know, that’s with any team. But ultimately, man, that offensive scheme and being able to do the things that I’m good at, get in space, run routes on people that have free reign to run routes on. Ultimately, playing with Patrick Mahomes would also be something pretty cool. That offense, it kinda, it’s pretty much the same way we ran our college offense. Get guys in space and let them make plays. And that’s where I made my money.”

Q: Tyrann Mathieu (former LSU DB, now Chiefs S) has come back to be a part of the championship run in celebration. Have you talked with him/has he reached out to LSU guys?

A: “He’s talked to some guys. I haven’t talked to Tyrann, but I’ve talked to Darrel (Williams former LSU RB, now Chiefs RB) more than anything. That was a guy I sat by my freshman year in meeting rooms. I pretty much drip, just ask Darrel 1,000 questions, being that annoying freshman in the room. But Darrel, I mean, he helped me a lot. And ultimately to this day, he’s still helping me. Before I came out here, we’re texting and talking and everything, pretty much giving me the rundown about everything. Darrel’s been a huge part of this little circuit I’m going on.

Q: What kind of person would a team be getting with you?

A: “As a player, I’ll say I’m exclusive. That’s the noun that I’m going with. That’s the adjective that I’m going with. Ultimately, I’m going to stand by that 100%. I feel like everything I do is something that can’t be matched. I feel like i’m kind of, not really, making my own category. But I feel like in this instance, I’m making my own category and doing the things that I need to do to separate me from the bunch.”

Q: Will you be participating in drills this week?

A: “Yes I am.”

Q: Who else have you had formal interviews with?

A: “Yesterday I had eight. It was the Jaguars, the Colts, Oakland or Las Vegas, Kansas City. Met with, it’s been a long week.”

Q: Bills?

A: “Yes sir.”

Q: How about the Buccaneers?

A: “No I didn’t meet with the Bucs yet.”

Q: Are you scheduled to meet with the Bucs?

A: “Yes sir. I mean, I have 12 more formal interviews, so I assume so.”

Q: Dolphins?

A: “I haven’t met with the Dolphins.”

Q: This class is loaded with running back talent. Have you been able to admire anyone else’s game you’re gonna get drafted with?

A: “Oh yeah, no doubt. I’m sure everybody does. That’s just the nature of playing running back in college. J.K. (Dobbins, Ohio State), D’Andre (Swift, Georgia), Cam (Akers, Florida State). A lot of those guys, we kind of competed in high school and did those things in high school as far as competing. So being able to see those guys week in and week out, doing their thing. Ultimately, some guys started their first few years and sophomore year. I kind of saw them take off early so being able to see the things that they were doing was something pretty cool to me, knowing that [we’re] the same age doing the same thing. Ultimately my time kind of came around later.”

Q: What makes your skillset a little different?

A: “I feel like I can do everything. Like I said, the adjective I describe myself as was exclusive. And I feel like I can exclusively do whatever you need me to do. That’s what I’m standing behind.”

Q: How much do you think LSU caught up to Alabama? Not just this season but next year.

A: “I feel like we always had the talent. Always did the things that we needed to do as far as preparation. But ultimately the offensive scheme that we had last year was something that really made the difference. It’s a simple RPO spread offense, but it was simple, which made the athletes that we had, it let us shine.”

Q: How much can LSU carry that forward with Joe Brady gone, Dave Aranda gone, lots of players.

A: “I think it’ll be pretty much the same. You know, difference faces as far as playing the game, but for the most part, man, those guys, we had some depth behind the starters that we had on that team. It’s gonna be very seeing what they’re gonna do next year.”

Q: There are running backs in this group that had 800 to 1000 carries. You obviously have far fewer. Do you see that as an advantage to the tread life you have on your legs?

A: “Oh yeah no doubt. If you’re a car guy, for like a Pirelli P Zero tire fresh off the market. You kinda wear it out, man. That’s my thing I feel like my lifespan right now is pretty long. Zero surgeries. I had the hamstring, tweaked hamstring before Oklahoma. Did an MRI. Wasn’t even a grade 1 strain. It was just tightness. So right now I feel like I’m one of the healthiest guys and most valuable.”

Q: How much has working with Kevin Faulk helped you?

A: “Ultimately, the first thing when Kevin came on staff two years ago, I asked him about pass pro. It wasn’t about, ‘Hey, what’s up. How you doing?’ Ultimately it was, he walked in the door, I asked him about pass pro and we immediately got working on it because I understood his standpoint from it. I mean, he blocked for Tom Brady – one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the football league. So he played for 12 years, which ultimately he learned how to pass pro and I knew that I was going to have to do that on the next level. And that’s something I pride myself on also. As soon as he came in, we hopped on it. He’s kinda the guy that helped me along the lines with it and then ultimately just the way he ran the ball and everything else from his height standpoint, my height standpoint, everything we were seeing eye-to-eye on a lot of things.

Q: Something about his route running, being shifty.

A: “I feel like some things can be taught and some things come natural. For the most part I feel like it was natural ability, but also being able to be coached on certain keys that will ultimately separate me from the crowd or separate myself from a player when I ran a route was something [Faulk] helped me on a lot. Little things that he learned from older guys from when he was being taught in the league and right now, man, it’s all kind of trickling down.

Q: What’s Joe Brady going to bring to the Panthers and the NFL in general?

A: “He’s going to bring a cool and collected personality. Younger guy. He’s going to be able to communicate pretty much eye-to-eye with them and not talk down upon them. Joe Brady was a guy who saw eye-to-eye with us. He would come in, come sit with us. He would come eat with us. And everything was pretty much like, not really like homeboy talking but he got things across in the form or fashion that nowadays [is] how we talk to each other. It’s how we communicate. So being able to have a guy around the same age or a little younger, with a different little slang to the way that he talks is going to bring some composure to their offense. And also, man, the athletes they have on that offense, it’s gonna be pretty fun watching them next year.

Q: Were you a Saints fan growing up?

A: “I watched football. I watched NFL football, but I never really had a favorite NFL team. Just something about it. The game was different. Being able to watch college, we had college football on NCAA and everything about it was like, I want to play for a certain college team. So that’s it pretty much.”

Q: Any interaction with the Falcons?

A: “Yes, sir. I had an informal.”

Q: What’s Joe Brady really like in the meeting room?

A: “Joe Brady was in a different meeting room from me. But I mean, ultimately, the offensive meeting room, he was straightforward. Everything was straightforward. Everything was technical about everything that he wanted to do and specific on the things that he wanted as far as routes, us being able to break certain routes off, adjustments, certain coverages. Everything was pinpoint dead on. So ultimately, I don’t know how he was in the wide receivers meeting room, but as far as offensive, we would meet time to time, but for he most part he was pretty much straight forward.”

Q: Is there an NFL player you watch on Sundays and you watch and say, ‘I’m kind of like him or I like that guy’s game?’

A: “I feel like it’s kinda all around for the most part. But most recently, I would say Josh Jacobs. He’s a guy that’s versatile. He came out and he was able to do everything that was asked of him, pass pro, running between the tackles, being able to catch the ball, is something that I feel like he prided himself on. [He’s] a little bigger than me. I have recent comparisons, Maurice Jones-Drew and all that and everything else, but for the most part, film wise, Marshall Faulk and Kevin Faulk were two guys that I watched a lot in understanding route leverage and on routes and everything else and me being able to ultimately catch the ball is something that really sets me apart.”

Q: What do you think Joe Burrow is going to be like as an NFL quarterback?

A: “He’s going to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. He’s a guy that, he already prepared like he was a 10-year vet in the league. I remember they had a video going out on Drew Brees when like Reggie Bush was recording from the other side of the field. Those little instances and those little things are things that Joe does. He will stay out, check all his balls and everything after Thursday practices. And then he would mentally just go through everything. And you don’t see a lot of guys do it, especially in college football. He’s a perfectionist and the things that he did ultimately ended up leading him to being one of the greatest college football players ever.”

Q: Do you have another example of that, as far as him being a perfectionist?

A: “Joe would call me. We would go in, do some things in film. Sometimes I would leave class early for some things that Joe wanted to get done. But for the most part, like when I say perfectionist, anything that your mind is triggering about perfectionists, nine times out of 10, Joe done it.”

Q: What class was it? What class did you leave early?

A: “Man, classes were different day in and day out. So I mean, right now I can’t recall.”

Q: Something on Patrick Queen

A: “Patrick has always been an instinctive player. I mean, you can watch it on film, but Pat is different in the form of him being just an elite athlete, but also a guy that’s always hard on himself and always preparing the way he needs to prepare. Pat, he’s so relentless effort for practice all the way to the game field. He was always hard on himself. Certain guys learn certain ways, but I think him being hard on himself got him in a position that he’s in today.”

Q: Something about Patrick Queen playing at a higher level in the playoffs

A: “No, no. Pat has always been that athlete on the field. But ultimately, it’s LSU. It’s a stable of people that’s there. It’s a stable [of] athletes. Being able to see Pat ultimately come into his own, I feel like we were kind of in that same boat, just kind of being able to get the experience that we wanted and get the opportunities that we were fortunate to gain and made the best of.”

Q: What does an in-game adjustment look like for a running back?

A: “So ultimately, man, with this offense that we ran, everybody was making adjustments on us. So we would come out and watch film and all beforehand everything would be pretty much planned out. And we would think, they’ll come out in these looks and to play us, everybody would come out in a different look. So being able to think back either the year before or being able to see different — you don’t watch the same game. You watch the defensive coordinator. You watch a couple guys that’s coaching on their staff, all the different aspects that can probably come in. You watch all that filmf and being able to make some adjustments off of the film that you may have watched on either an NFL team that this defensive coordinator was coaching or a team previous, a couple years before, being able to pull things from a defense that he had before and make in-game adjustments [and] all of the things you’re seeing currently.”

Q: The Auburn game, his second half. An example of him adjusting?

A: “Yeah no doubt. Especially, man, when they came out in this set when they were stacking both linebackers. It was real weird. But ultimately, we pretty much unfolded that in like three plays. I had that crazy drive where I ended up touching it like four times in a row and scoring on the last one and all that was based off in-game adjustments.”

Q: No idea.

A: “In that aspect, I wouldn’t even say height. I think it’s more of an ability and being able to understand the blocking scheme. Like you said, it’s a duo concept. [indiscernible] I just make my move off that linebacker and ultimately, I do play the hide and seek game. I can hide behind some people, make some guys shed over the top and just go back door, just run it up the middle or bounce it outside is something that I just felt like I was all around.

Q: Say Cam Newton gets healthy and he’s Joe Brady’s quarterback next year, what would Joe Brady do with a guy like that?

A: “Ooh wee. Have fun. I mean, you know, why not? One of the most freakiest athletes that this game has ever saw. And then ultimately man, the talent around him is going to pretty much relieve Cam from a lot of stuff and ultimately, him being able to pick that [defense] apart. I mean, just like Joe (Burrow), crazy athlete. Cam, crazy athlete. But ultimately when you have those athletes around you and I know Christian (McCaffrey) is going to see that offense and see that playbook and his eyes are going to light up. Because same thing with me. I saw that play book and got extremely happy about what was coming in.”

Q: What did you see about it that made you happy?

A: “Like I said, playmakers in space. That’s it.”

Q: Did Joe Brady have a conversation with you before the season about you playing receiver a little more?

A: “We initially didn’t, but I think he watched film on me from the prior year. And he was like, as soon as we came out, I started running routes. He was like, ‘You’re going to make money on this. You’ll make money on this. You’ll make money on that. That’s just the common saying as far as, if you do what you need to do, this offense is going to let you pretty much stride and that was ultimately what happened.”

Q: Is that an example of him adjusting the talent around? Seeing a way to figure out how to use you more effectively?

A: “Yes, sir. Yes, sir. You hit the nail on the head.”

Q: Have you met with the Steelers at all?

A: “No, sir, not yet.”

Q: Your favorite seafood boil?

A: “It’s always gonna be Louisiana Zatarain’s Seafood Boil. But as far me being able to eat? Crawfish all day.”

Q: No mussels, no clams?

A: “Nope.”

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