Many believed Travis Etienne would skip his fourth year at Clemson to head to the NFL, but he decided to finish out his college career, in turn he became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. When it comes to running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s Etienne and Alabama’s Najee Harris likely at the top of any running back needy team’s draft board.
Etienne is 5-foot-10, 215 pounds and ran 40-yard dash times of 4.41 and 4.43 seconds at his pro day. He doesn’t have a long list of faults, as you would expect from such an accomplished runner. His is ability to burst into top speed is great and he can get by defenders before they can get their bodies into position. He’s not going to run NFL defenders over with his size, but his leg churn for extra yards is going to give him extra yards.
One positive of Etienne staying in college another year is that he improved as a receiver. For his career, he went from five, 12, 37, to 48 receptions while upping his yards per reception to a career high of 12.3 his senior year despite catching more passes. Those 48 receptions also came in just 12 games.
What are scouts saying?
I see a lot of Alvin Kamara after studying these three games. Both guys have rare quickness and burst. Kamara is more advanced as a route runner, but Etienne has the tools to achieve that level of performance. They also share a natural feel for the position. Kamara doesn’t need to touch the ball 25 times to have a major impact on a game. The same can be said for Etienne. Kamara is one of the top weapons in the NFL, and I believe Etienne could develop into the same type of player. — NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah
Mock Draft landing spots
There are plenty of teams that could use a player like Etienne, but only a few who have a big enough need to draft a running back in the second round or even earlier. The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers are almost locks to draft a running back at some point and both will take a hard look at Etienne.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Etienne is a player who can quickly become a fantasy star, as his ability as a runner and receiver should keep him on the field. He’s likely to get picked in the second round as the first or second back in the draft and with that kind of draft capital he’s not going to be sitting come game day.
Fantasy impact: Career
As with any NFL running back, longterm viability will always be a question mark. Players like Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore are the exception to the norm and even they lost their high fantasy upside earlier than the top wide receivers in the league. Getting 5-6 strong fantasy seasons out of Etienne would be a windfall.