It is time for our next installment of the 2020 Chiefs Matchup Series. In today’s deep dive, we look into players who play positions that are considered to have little value. However, both possess extraordinary traits that strengthen their individual teams. Despite the narratives of the positions they play on the field, the talent, instincts and reliability is undeniable. On one side, we have rookie first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Then, there’s Tremaine Edmunds of the Buffalo Bills. CEH was the first running back selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, Buffalo made Edmunds the first linebacker drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. Even though we have yet to see the Chiefs rookie grace an NFL field, both enter/entered the league with sky high expectations. This makes for an intriguing matchup in 2020, that should get more attention than it probably is.
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Do It All Back
Last season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the one who kept the offense structured for the LSU Tigers. As a runner, he made many defenders whiff on tackle attempts. The balance and vision that he brings to the table is highly noticeable. Not many running backs can finish runs the way Edwards-Helaire does, despite a “small” 5’7” frame.
It is also rare for a running back to have the diverse route running history of his resume. First off, he can line up all over the field. The routes CEH runs are fairly efficient, with little wasted movement. Like LSU did last year, Kansas City can rely on him over the middle of the field, while defenses worry about other dangerous weapons outside of the numbers. As has been stated, the Chiefs are super confident in his potential in this offense with the duo of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes.
Reid Holds The Keys
Let’s continue to elaborate on the pairing with Reid’s offense. Stats are often not completely understood, or taken out of context. Nonetheless, it is hard to ignore the success that plenty of running backs have enjoyed with this head coach.
Just during his Kansas City tenure alone, we have seen players like Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West come out of nowhere to lead the team in rushing or be dual threats. Damien Williams also achieved a career high in rushing last season, en route to winning the Super Bowl.
Going back further to Andy’s days in Philadelphia, the Eagles saw sustained success with guys like Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook (whom Edwards-Helaire has been compared to), and LeSean McCoy. Running back was hardly an issue for the Eagles throughout the duration of that stretch. Reid’s teams produced a 1,000 yard rusher in six of his fourteen seasons as Philadelphia head coach. Simply put, Andy Reid produces league leaders and winners fairly easily.
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Age Is Just A Number
When Tremaine Edmunds was drafted by the Bills, he was still just 19 years old coming out of Virginia Tech. That was no restriction for the former Butkus Award finalist, as head coach Sean McDermott named Edmunds as his starting middle linebacker for 2018.
Highlights from his rookie season, included an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month win for December and two sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles each. His Week 14 interception against Sam Darnold and the New York Jets, was a record breaker. Edmunds became the youngest NFL player to record an interception (20 years old).
Entering his sophomore campaign, Tremaine was named a team captain. This had to be no small feeling either, as the Buffalo Bills have built a strong and vibrant team culture. Tackles are a stat we have become numb to, especially over the course of a season. But, it is impressive to look at some of Edmunds single game tackle totals from last year. He can become a game changer at any instant. Twice, the Buffalo linebacker notched 12 tackles during the year, including the Wild Card loss against the Houston Texans. Following a difficult, head scratching playoff loss, Edmunds was named to the Pro Bowl.
As mentioned above, Edmunds can take over a game often for a deep Bills defense. Where should Edwards-Helaire be prepared? Honestly, the size, speed and range combo of Edmunds has always been a pain for opponents. It is rare to see a linebacker built like him, that can fill, rush the passer and cover, all at a successfully high rate.
Where Buffalo has been smart with him, is matching him up against opponent’s best players. Edmunds is a chess piece. He can move around all over the field, just like Edwards-Helaire. I will say his pass coverage in zone is a lot better than in man. Furthermore, his agility and change of direction skills can make up for missteps.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.