The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Clemson running back Travis Etienne with the No. 25 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They wanted to get some help for new rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, and they’re hoping he can bring some of the success he saw during his time on the field in college to Duval.
When Etienne announced that he was returning to Clemson for his senior campaign, it caught a lot of people off guard. With a stellar junior season, he was already projected to be picked near the top of the NFL Draft. But he opted to chase another national title with the Tigers. Though the end goal wasn’t accomplished, he solidified himself as a versatile first-round back thanks to just under 1,000 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns in a pandemic-shortened season.
In his decision to head back to school for a season, his yards per rush went down a bit but was still averaging well over five yards per carry. The aspect he worked the most on, and clearly improved in, was his catching the ball out of the backfield. Even in a season shortened by COVID, Etienne finished with a career-high in receiving yards with 588 and two scores through the air to add to his 14 on the ground.
He’s not a massive runner by any means, standing at 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, but he isn’t going to shy away from contact when he can’t outrun defenders. But he’s usually able to, thanks to his long strides. He has game-breaking speed when he does eventually make it into the open field, running and is projected to be a viable three-down back at the NFL level. Even with his greatly improved pass-catching during his senior season, he still has a tendency for an unexpected dropped pass every now and then.
Fantasy football impact
Travis Etienne will be competing in the backfield for touches with second-year running back James Robinson. However, it would not come as a surprise to see Etienne become RB1 with his ability to be a playmaker in the passing game. The 5-foot-10 back is a home-run hitter and could find himself as a borderline RB1/RB2 play this season.
Etienne is reunited with his college teammate in Trevor Lawrence, giving them another weapon in the running and passing games. The former Clemson running back will likely pass Robinson on the depth chart and become the team’s feature back. But depending on how Etienne’s rookie season goes, we could see him taken early in fantasy football drafts in 2022.