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Travis Etienne works with wide receivers at minicamp

Jaguars rookie head coach hopes to push Travis Etienne into a more complete offensive weapon. Will that hurt or help his 2021 fantasy football upside?

Travis Etienne Jr. #1 of the Jacksonville Jaguars participates in drills during Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp at TIAA Bank Field on May 15, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars second pick in the NFL Draft, Travis Etienne, did all of his work as a wide receiver in his first minicamp, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Etienne was used heavily as a receiver at Clemson, catching 85 passes from Trevor Lawrence for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns. But, some evaluators had Etienne’s receiving skills as just above average, but believing he had more work to do as a pure receiver.

Coach Urban Meyer said about his rookie running back, At the worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skill set of a wide receiver. Best-case scenario you’ll have a hybrid player who does both and that’s what we’re hoping to develop out of Travis.”

It looks as though Meyer is looking to bring this aspect from his college days to the NFL. Meyer coached players like Percy Harvin and could be moving Etienne into that hybrid role. In college Meyer used that pasition as far back as when he was coaching at Utah with a player named Paris Warren at a position they called “the H,” per Albert Breer. Breer goes onto say:

The concept is one that, even all these years later, remains a forward-thinking one—that a versatile athlete can break the offensive huddle as “positionless,” and force the defense to adjust based on where he goes. It also demands a unique athlete. Most backs can’t be functional receivers. Those who can—and Etienne has flashed that—allow coaches to generate mismatches for them all over the field (an idea that goes back to Thurman Thomas and Marshall Faulk).

With two bruising backs in James Robinson and Carlos Hyde already in the fold, it appears Meyer wants to use Etienne in a similar role, pushing him all over the field. That will depend on how well he can progress at route running and catching passes against NFL linebackers of course. But, if he can develop well enough as a receiver, he could become a unique weapon. And for fantasy, he could get to a point where he sees enough high leverage work in PPR leagues to be a strong fantasy player. But it also could limit him in touches early on.