With the No. 25 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jaguars select Clemson running back Travis Etienne….
Travis Etienne Career Statistics
Etienne took a small step “back” in production in his senior season, but exits Clemson coming off three-straight 1,500 yards seasons while scoring 13 or more touchdowns all four seasons. Clemson also lost four starting offensive lineman from 2019 to the NFL, which played a role in Etienne’s reduced efficiency on the ground as his yards prior to contact dropped (1.8) dropped a full yard from 2019 per Pro Football Focus.
On the other side of the coin, Etienne improved as a pass-catcher every season at Clemson and led all running backs last season with 588 receiving yards on 48 receptions.
Etienne is also the most explosive playmaker in this class with a nose for the end zone. He scored at least one touchdown in 46 of his 55 career games while 24 of his touchdowns came from outside of the red zone and 17 from 40 yards or longer.
Etienne has been listed below 210 pounds and was kept at 244 touches or fewer in every season in college, but checking in at 215 pounds at his Pro Day alleviates early concerns that he may be a back that is lighter than listed at. Etienne has an Alvin Kamara-esque ceiling, but also a stable floor due his receiving ability and explosive playmaking even if he cannot meet that high of a comparison.
Trent Baalke has now drafted a running back in all seven of the drafts he has been a part of as a general manager with just one of those backs selected later than the fourth round.
Both Urban Meyer and Darrell Bevell have strong run-first roots and pairing Etienne with James Robinson is a strong signal that is not about to change. Robinson racked up 1,414 yards from scrimmage on 289 touches with 10 touchdowns in 14 games played. Those yards produced (on a 1-15 team) were the third-most in NFL history for an undrafted rookie and the most since 1962.
That said, Robinson was largely a volume producer who lacked big-play and receiving upside. Robinson handled 84.8% of the Jacksonville backfield carries and 85.8% of their backfield touches in 2020. But just 32.5% of Robinson’s carries went for five or more yards (36th out of 50 qualifiers) while he averaged 7.0 yards per reception, 31st among all backs that had 20 or more receptions. Outside of the massive draft capital investment discrepancy between the two, Etienne is an immediate threat to take over the bulk of touches. Where Robinson can hope to hang onto a significant role is near the goal line.
Early 2021 Travis Etienne Projection: 173 carries, 761 yards, 5 TD, 69 targets, 48 receptions, 367 yards, 2 TD