LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire eager to complement an NFL run attack

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire carries the ball.
Louisiana State running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire carries the ball against Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game in December.
(Todd Kirkland / Getty Images)

The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s favorite Louisiana seafood boil calls for 35 to 40 pounds of live crawfish, cleaned, in addition to two pounds of shell-on shrimp and one pound of smoked sausage cut into small pieces.

There’s no debating the featured attraction in this steaming pot of Cajun scrumptiousness.


“Crawfish all day,” Edwards-Helaire said at the recent NFL combine in Indianapolis.

As a small but speedy running back out of Louisiana State, Edwards-Helaire was more like an accompaniment, one of those mini corn on the cobs, on a delectable Tigers offense that included Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrows and geaux-to receivers Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr.

National champion LSU produced 70.6% of its offense through the air behind Burrows & Co. on the way to going 15-0, but it was Edwards-Helaire who won the biggest compliment when Burrows called him the team’s best athlete.

The Times examines the top prospects ahead of the 2020 NFL draft, to be held April 23-25.

April 17, 2020

“For him to say that,” Edwards-Helaire said, “means the world to me.”

The final say will come from NFL teams who are pondering his value in the draft. He’s a bit of a wild card, with projections listing him being selected anywhere from the first to third rounds, but the allure is undeniable.

At 5 feet 7 and 207 pounds, Edwards-Helaire combines breakaway speed with elite pass-catching skills. The word that he likes to use to describe himself is “exclusive.”


“I feel like everything I do,” Edwards-Helaire said, “is something that can’t be matched.”

He also has low mileage on the odometer — a huge selling point for running back prospects who seem to have the shelf life of bananas once reaching the NFL.

As a freshman, Edwards-Helaire was buried on the depth chart behind Derrius Guice, a future second-round pick of the Washington Redskins. In 2018, Edwards-Helaire played behind Darrel Williams, a Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Edwards-Helaire was finally the headliner last season, worthy of giant, all-caps type screaming of his accomplishments. He rolled Alabama with 103 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving while scoring four touchdowns, part of an impressive haul that helped him finish the season with 1,414 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns to go with 55 catches for 453 yards and another touchdown.

Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos has endured two life tragedies, toughening the edge rusher as he prepares for NFL draft.

April 13, 2020

Along the way, Edwards-Helaire kept hearing about what he couldn’t do.

“Every week it was always something,” Edwards-Helaire said. “ ‘Does he have breakaway speed?’ And then [I would] 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.”

He will enter the NFL with little treadwear, his 370 career rushing attempts fewer than half of some of his more celebrated counterparts.

“Like a Pirelli P Zero tire fresh off the market,” Edwards-Helaire said. “You kinda wear it out, man. That’s my thing I feel like my lifespan right now is pretty long.”