It’s not hard to see why Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne warranted a first-round selection last spring. While he’s slipped under the radar due to a redshirt rookie season, the spotlight deserves to be turned back towards his game as a talent expected to progress into a featured offensive weapon for the Jaguars this fall.
The second ball-carrier taken on Day 1 in last year’s draft (after Steelers’ Najee Harris), reevaluating Etienne’s skill set in a revamped Jacksonville offense should entice newly minted Head Coach Doug Pederson. Not to mention former Clemson teammate and current quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who enters a massive year two after throwing for 12 touchdowns against 17 interceptions in his first season, should benefit from Etienne’s increased role, as well.
A blend of size and strength, the former Tiger running back was truly a prospect in his own class coming out of school last year. While it’s hard to compare him to a bigger, stronger Harris – who enjoyed rookie success in Pittsburgh – Etienne offers a skill set unlike any other in his class or any other of recent memory.
He’s best shaped in the mold of Dalvin Cook coming out of Florida State or DeMarco Murray coming out of Oklahoma back in 2011. And although Murray was both taller and touted a higher ceiling of speed (with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash), none of the two possess Etienne’s ability out the backfield. That is a must-have ability for any prospect looking to make the transition into the pro game these days.
Once thought as the top back of the 2020 class, Etienne returned to school for his senior season in an attempt to boost his draft stock. Under COVID-19 restrictions and limitations surrounding on-campus workouts and a season ultimately in doubt as fall arrived, Etienne took Clemson’s campaign by the horns in 2021, progressing into arguably the nation’s top weapon in a 1-2 conversation with Harris.
While Lawrence garnered almost all of the attention in Death Valley, Etienne, as he always has, went about his game quietly to a simple tune of ACC career records in rushing yards with 4,952, total touchdowns (78) and rushing touchdowns (70). He also became one of only 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards. For a program touting a daunting list of stars, Etienne more than etched his name as one of its brightest.
And while his days at Clemson seem a long time ago after suffering a season-ending foot injury prior to opening week last summer, his health – and presence – this season alongside his Clemson teammate in Lawrence invite an entirely new widget to the playbook Offensive Coordinator Press Taylor will have at his disposal.
An offense fresh off an offseason facelift with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram all expected to garner significant targets from Lawrence, Etienne’s pairing with James Robinson will further lift the pressure off Lawrence’s shoulders and allow Jacksonville to progress into a well-rounded unit.
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022