Shortly after the Kansas City Chiefs selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the NFL Draft, general manager Brett Veach joined the local media for a Zoom conference call to discuss the LSU running back.
Veach had shared film of Edwards-Helaire with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid leading up to the draft.
“I give Coach a couple guys to take a peek on,” said Veach on the call. “I told Coach, ‘Wait until you finish up your work on Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He’s going to remind you of Brian Westbrook.’ Coach called me back and said, ‘He’s better than Brian.’”
That was extremely high praise, considering Westbrook amassed more than 10,000 yards from scrimmage in his career, including five seasons (2004-08) in a row of more than 1,000.
The next day, it was Reid’s turn to take questions from the media.
“Brett mentioned that he’s a Brian Westbrook-type,” noted Reid. “A kid that I had in Philadelphia for all those years. Those kind of players like Brian, Brian is one of those future Hall of Fame players that could do everything for you. Even though they weren’t the biggest guys, he just knew how to play the game. That’s how we felt about this kid.”
There was apparently a little more to the story.
The other call
Just as Edwards-Helaire received a call from Veach and Reid on Thursday night, so too did Westbrook on Friday morning, as he explained on “The Pat McAfee Show” on May 14 (the Westbrook interview begins at the 37-minute mark).
“Here’s a pretty cool story — the draft was on Thursday,” Westbrook told McAfee. “At some point during the draft, either Brett Veach or Andy Reid said to a local newspaper or TV station that this kid, Edwards-Helaire, is better than Brian Westbrook.
“He got picked in the draft Thursday night. Friday morning, I get a call on my phone from Brett Veach. And I am like, ‘What does Brett Veach want?’ I hadn’t heard the comments at that point. He said, ‘I’m just calling to let you know we weren’t saying that. That’s not what we were saying. We were saying that he has a lot of Brian Westbrook in him — and Andy wants to talk to you.’
“So about five minutes later, Andy calls, and I have nothing but love for Andy Reid and Brett Veach and those guys out there, spent so much time with them. And we’re kind of chopping it up. 15 minutes in, he’s like listen, ‘Just want you to know, I would never compare players. That’s not my thing.’”
Reid drafted Westbrook in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and coached him for eight seasons.
“I love Andy Reid. I appreciate the fact that he called.”
The skill set
Westbrook then gave a breakdown on Edwards-Helaire — and it seemed he agreed with the comparison.
“The other thing — when I see the player, I see quickness,” explained Westbrook. “I see speed. I see elusiveness. I see a guy that — if you put him in space, it’s going to be very hard to tackle him. And I just started to think of the Kansas City Chiefs as a team. And you have to consider space-makers. Tyreek Hill, space-maker. You talk about Travis Kelce, space-maker. If you get Sammy Watkins back, space-maker. Teams have to account for speed and their ability to run after the catch.”
The Chiefs accumulated 2,272 yards after the catch in 2019, second only to the Los Angeles Rams. In Edwards-Helaire, Westbrook sees another good player in that regard.
“You’re talking about a guy out of the backfield that can catch very well, can make a guy miss, always going to make the first man miss,” added Westbrook. “Andy Reid — and listen, I’m very, very biased — is better than any coach in the league [understanding] space and how to create space for his players. We see that with all the yards after the catch that Kelce and Hill get — and listen, you put this kid in that offense, and I just think this is a dream come true for Andy Reid, but also Patrick Mahomes and Edwards-Helaire because he’s going to have a great opportunity to carry the rock, touch it in a lot of different ways — screen game, the passes out of the backfield. The same way that Andy Reid used me. I’m excited about that offense, and how many weapons can the best offense in the league have? It seems kind of crazy.”
To the tape
We pulled highlights of Westbrook and Edwards-Helaire from YouTube. What do you think?
Who ends up with the better NFL career?
This poll is closed