Rookie Rundown: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

Rookie Rundown: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU

By

(Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports)

LSU junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (pronounced “EE-laire”) entered the 2020 NFL Draft class after a strong 2019 campaign with the Tigers. “CEH” didn’t see the field much as a freshman in 2017 but experienced a significant increase in playing time as a sophomore, waiting for his time as a junior to showcase everything in the tool chest.

As a child, Edwards-Helaire lost his father to a 30-year prison sentence on a cocaine arrest, and it brought Shannon Helaire into his life as a stepfather. CEH’s biological dad is out of prison on good behavior after serving 14 years, and Edwards-Helaire’s respect for both men led to the creation of the hyphenated last name. No stranger to adversity in his personal life, Edwards-Helaire had to overcome a procession of coaches telling his family he wouldn’t amount to much due to his stature, something that became a source of motivation for him.

Height: 5-foot-7
Weight: 207 pounds
40 time: 4.6 seconds

Edwards-Helaire, as mentioned, had to wait his turn at LSU, but when he finally was granted a chance, it was obvious he belonged in the starting role. CEH ran for just over 1,400 yards on only 215 totes and showed off his skills out of the backfield, snagging 55 passes for the national champs.

The junior was recognized as a Paul Hornung Award finalist for versatility and voted to the All-SEC team twice (first-team RB, second-team returner). That versatility was on display throughout his time at LSU. Edwards-Helaire was a kickoff returner in addition to his multifaceted chores as a running back, and he even threw a touchdown pass in 2018.

Table: Clyde Edwards-Helaire NCAA stats (2017-19)

Year
Team
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Long
Rec
Yds
Avg
TD
2017
LSU
9
31
3.4
0
10
3
46
15.3
0
2018
LSU
146
658
4.5
7
47
11
96
8.7
0
2019
LSU
215
1,414
6.6
16
89
55
453
8.2
1

Pros

  • Efficient producer due to combination of quick feet, elusive wiggle, deceiving strength, impressive vision, and a nasty jump cut … these traits make him unpredictable
  • Lateral quickness and cutback ability are excellent — immediately dials up burst after a downshift
  • Quality route-running skills and hands — chews up yardage after the catch
  • Low center of gravity and can disappear in a mass of humanity
  • Tremendous ball security
  • Hard worker, team-first guy with high character
  • Special teams experience in the return game
  • Limited mileage on his tires

Cons

  • Lacks top-end speed
  • May struggle in the pros to consistently challenge on the perimeter
  • Pass protection skills are in need of refinement — borderline functional strength vs. massive pass rushers
  • One year of elite production on an undefeated team full of NFL-caliber talent
  • Despite finding success in high school and in the toughest NCAA conference, size concerns will turn off some NFL scouting departments

Fantasy football outlook

A wide range of NFL comparisons are bandied about when it comes to Edwards-Helaire. Maurice Jones-Drew is the most obvious one, but comps to Devonta Freeman or even a smaller version of Mark Ingram may be more appropriate.

CEH’s draft stock is somewhat in question, partly because of possible limitations, a lack of premium placed on running backs, and a quality draft class. He is likely to be chosen on Day 2. The best locations for him can be boiled down to zone-blocking systems, but it doesn’t always work out that way, since coaches can convince the brass they’re capable of molding a player or system for a proper fit.

Given his special teams history, it’s quite possible he comes into an already established backfield and is used sparingly as a rookie. Edwards-Helaire could earn third-down work right away, but only if coaches are sure he isn’t going to be a liability in pass pro.

New Orleans, Buffalo, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams are the most viable teams to draft him. Edwards-Helaire’s fantasy football value would be maximized in Tampa, LA and Miami, but he could serve as a useful spell to Todd Gurley or as a complement in Pittsburgh’s backfield. In the best-case scenario (Tampa), CEH is an RB3 or weak No. 2 in fantasy drafts.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home