Pro comps have ranged for Edwards-Helaire, but one of the most interesting might be Brian Westbrook. The two-time Pro Bowler played under coach Andy Reid for eight seasons as the Eagles’ featured do-it-all back from 2002 to 2009. In 2007, he earned first-team All-Pro honors and led the league in yards from scrimmage (2,104), recording 1,333 rushing and 771 receiving. When Veach told Reid to view Edwards-Helaire’s tape, Reid was so impressed that he asserted the LSU product is better than Westbrook. It wouldn’t be surprising if Reid noticed some of Williams’s game in Edwards-Helaire, too.
Though Williams is a much bigger back (he’s 5-foot-11, 224 pounds), the two share some traits, with the clearest being that both are tremendous receiving options out of the backfield. In LSU’s offense Edwards-Helaire split out wide and featured in the slot throughout the season, and he was also effective crossing the face of box defenders on angle routes and as a safety valve in the flat for Heisman winner and Bengals no. 1 pick, Joe Burrow. In the national championship, Edwards-Helaire turned some catches into big gains. During the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win, Williams had some similar plays, juking out defenders along the boundary.
The Chiefs have rotated through productive running backs in recent years, and now they add first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The former Tiger forced 0.29 missed tackles per attempt throughout his LSU career, second-best among all NFL-caliber running backs since we started grading in 2014. Edwards-Helaire is also proficient in the passing game, both before and after the catch, adding yet another weapon to a deep Kansas City offense.
The young rookie was slated to battle Damien Williams for snaps, but Williams opted out of the 2020 season after having two productive seasons with the Chiefs. His 63.6 elusive rating ranked 12th among running backs last year.
Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
Damien Williams was arguably the best player on the Chiefs offense during their Super Bowl run last year, but he’s opted out of the 2020 season. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire was set to share playing time, but now will be the likely full-time running back for the Chiefs offense. A gifted receiver, Edwards-Helaire is a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s offense but will have big shoes to fill.
What actually happened: Drafted DL DeForest Buckner
Where Tyreek Hill was actually picked: Fifth round by the Chiefs
With Hill a member of the San Francisco 49ers instead of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Niners would probably be the defending champions. They lacked—and continue to lack—an elite No. 1 receiver, and Hill fits that profile after making the Pro Bowl in each of his first four pro seasons.
The speed demon out of West Alabama is already a two-time first-team All-Pro, and he caught nine passes for 105 yards against San Francisco in February’s Super Bowl matchup.
This would only mean the alternate-timeline 49ers would have to give up heralded rookie first-rounder Javon Kinlaw, who was selected with the pick the team acquired for Buckner in March (after another trade down). Considering how strong the 49ers already are on defense, that’s an easy call.
The veteran running back is signing a one-year deal worth just over $1 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
McCoy spent some of the offseason publicly selling what he has to offer to prospective teams, enjoying the fact that he could control where he’s headed with the hopes of getting maximum playing time — unlike how his time in Kansas City ended when he was inactive for Super Bowl LIV. The runner known as “Shady” named the Eagles as an ideal club to which he could return, and Rapoport reported McCoy did indeed have talks with the Eagles, but ultimately opted to move south.
McCoy is less than 1,000 yards from break 12,000 career rushing yards, which he told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo last week is a career goal of his that he’d like to achieve in 2020. He said then that his decision would primarily be about “the right fit” for him, with “winning a championship” also at the forefront of his mind.
Chiefs (-10) vs. Texans
If you’re thinking about betting this game, I’d go ahead and bet it now, because there’s a good chance the point spread will only go up between now and Week 1 no matter how many players Kansas City’s roster end up sitting out the season. The Chiefs will be returning 18 of 22 starters in 2020, and that includes the fact that their starting running back and starting right guard have already decided to skip the season (Chiefs gambling note: Unless the Patrick Mahomes or Kansas City’s entire offensive line decides to sit out the season, I will not be betting against the Chiefs in this game).
Around the NFL
A league source told ESPN that two players, including one rookie, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and the team made the decision to conduct the day’s meetings virtually.
The news was first reported by NFL Network.
Under the NFL’s training camp mandate, players must register three negative tests in a five-day span in order to enter the facility. Although teams are not required to shut down their facility for a positive test, the Bills chose to minimize risk by sending players home for the day.
“As we were informed by medical experts as training camp opened, we expected to have positive tests for COVID,” the team said in a statement to ESPN. “With 5 since the beginning of the testing period last Tuesday, we decided to take a disciplined, proactive and preventative approach to hopefully eliminate additional cases within our team.”
New offensive coordinator: Chan Gailey
NGS has developed a great new stat called Expected Rushing Yards (ERY), which approximates how many yards a ball carrier should be able to earn in a given situation. Last season, the Dolphins tied for 26th in ERY per carry (3.95 yards), suggesting their ball-carriers faced the sixth-worst circumstances in the NFL (a clue about O-line play). That said, Miami rushers posted -0.97 yards per carry over expectation, the worst mark in the NFL by a good margin (the second-worst mark was the Falcons’ -0.75), which means they underperformed relative even to their paltry projected pace. NGS back this up, as Miami ranked last in the NFL in rushes with the QB under center (2.4 yards per carry), last on rushes outside the tackles (3.5 yards) and second-to-last on rushes inside the tackles (3.4 yards).
Anthony Barr has spent his entire career in Minnesota, and that won’t change in 2020, but this season will be unlike any other for him.
He’ll begin it away from his teammates. Barr was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced. The reserve/COVID-19 list is for players who either tested positive for the virus or have been quarantined after being in close contact with an infected person.
The Patriots weren’t — aren’t — just a dynasty. They were in essence two dynasties, the first three championships (2001, ’03, and ’04) and the next three (2014, ’16, and ’18) bookending a stretch of excellence (2005-13) in which lousy luck and other forces conspired to remind us just how hard it is to win a single Super Bowl.
Maybe, if everything goes right — and remember, the window is tight with key players like tight end Travis Kelce and safety Tyrann Mathieu becoming free agents after 2021 — the Chiefs could collect a couple more Lombardi Trophies in the next few years, and get into that conversation with the ’90s Cowboys as a three-title dynasty. But that is the absolutely best-case scenario.
Brate contracted the virus as the player-organized workouts were going on a few months ago, but his fiancée, Brooke, whom he lives with, started exhibiting symptoms first, so he put himself into quarantine before his diagnosis.
“I initially tested negative, but at some point, I contracted it from her and later became infected,” Brate said. “For me personally, the only thing I experienced was a loss of taste for two days. So I’m extremely grateful that I wasn’t one of the people who got some of the more severe symptoms.”
“The way things worked out, I kind of was already in quarantine before I had a positive test or anything. I think the guys continued to work out and luckily I wasn’t putting anyone at risk, which was great,” said Brate, who has fully recovered.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
We know there are two kinds of opt-outs: voluntary and high-risk. In both types, the player’s existing contract tolls (or pauses) for one year. So in the case of Damien Williams — who would have been a free agent in 2021 — the terms of his 2020 contract will now move to the 2021 season; he’ll now become a free agent in 2022. But in both types, any signing bonus that would have been charged against the cap in 2020 remains in the current year.
So Williams’ 2020 pro-rated signing bonus of $533,334 (and what is apparently a guaranteed $50,000 workout bonus) remains on the team’s cap for the coming season; for cap purposes, only his base salary and non-guaranteed bonuses (totaling $2.1 million) move to next season.
A tweet to make you think
Chiefs RB Damien Williams explains his reasoning for opting out of the 2020 NFL season, that hits close to home.— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) July 30, 2020
"It was hard.. football is my life, especially coming off a championship"
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