KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night when the Super Bowl champions picked LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall selection.
The Chiefs were long rumored to have interest in trading down, especially considering they have just five selections during the three-day draft. But with no suitors bringing general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid a worthwhile offer, the Chiefs wound up having their pick of running backs after none had been taken in the first round.
They ultimately went with Edwards-Helaire, the best fit for their offense, over more high-profile running backs such as Georgia’s D’Andre Swift and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Edwards-Helaire was widely considered the best pass-catching running back in the draft, and he should become the immediate backup to injury-prone starter Damien Williams.
Edwards-Helaire also comes to the Chiefs with very little wear and tear on his body.
The 5-foot-7 junior ran just 215 times for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns while catching an astounding 55 passes for 453 yards and another score for the national champions last season. Edwards-Helaire showed up when it mattered most, too, running 16 times for 110 yards in LSU’s victory over Clemson in the title game.
The Chiefs came into the draft in the most enviable of positions: They were able to retain most of their own free agents, including cornerback Bashaud Breeland and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, ensuring 20 of 22 starters from their title team would be back for a season that could begin after an abbreviated offseason.
The few holes the Chiefs did have were plugged by value signings in free agency.
Veteran offensive lineman Mike Remmers was brought in to replace the departed Cam Erving at swing tackle, and cornerback Antonio Hamilton was signed to replaced Kendall Fuller, who signed a big-money deal with Washington. The Chiefs also brought in Ricky Seals-Jones to back up star tight end Travis Kelce, and they managed to grab DeAndre Washington from the AFC West rival Raiders to provide some depth at running back.
That gave the Chiefs plenty of latitude at No. 32.
It was the first time in three years that Veach was due to pick on the opening night of the draft. His first draft came after the Chiefs sent their first-round pick in 2018 to Buffalo as part of the deal that allowed them to move up and select Patrick Mahomes the previous season. Then last year, Veach sent their first-round pick to Seattle in the days before the draft to get pass rusher Frank Clark, who turned in a Pro Bowl season in helping Kansas City to the championship.
Trading out of the first round again remained a distinct possibility, though. The Chiefs had a league-low five picks — one each of the first five rounds — and were keen to pick up a couple more selections later in the draft.