Our last running back prospect is Travis Etienne from Clemson. Etienne continues to impress the college football world with his unspeakable talent. He will definitely be a running back to watch for in the 2020 NFL Draft.
To me, Travis Etienne was the best running back in this draft before the historic performance of Jonathan Taylor. Etienne has the potential to have a high ceiling in the NFL. He has not gotten as much attention as he did last year because he is overshadowed by the successes of the other talented running backs in this draft class.
Etienne is something special. Once he finds an open hole, he is tough to catch. Etienne ran for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. In 2019, he will finish with over 1,500 yards and currently has 17 touchdowns. He is a bit on the leaner side, but that does not stop Etienne from powering through defenders with his speed and versatility. As lean as he is, when Etienne gets hit, he is good at keeping balance throughout the play and staying on his feet. He is definitely an “ankle-breaking” running back with his footwork ability to make cuts down the open field.
In 2017, Etienne returned the ball 19 times for 389 yards. This season, he has returned the ball three times for 82 yards. These numbers may not jump out too much, but they certainly should not be overlooked. Etienne is more than capable of being a return man with his burst of speed.
I think that Travis Etienne is one of the fastest players in this draft. He provides the speed that matches the likes of Tarik Cohen on the field. There is not a doubt that this guy will be looked at mostly for his speed. He is a guy that when given an open field, or even a slight amount of daylight, can make another team pay. He is a guy that has to be contained and that is one thing that defensive coordinators will take away from watching him on tape. He is a head-turner and one of those guys that will force an entire defense to focus on him.
Travis Etienne is without a doubt the quickest running back in this class. He has elite burst and gets to the hole quickly. Etienne also has tremendous acceleration making him tough to catch once he gets to the second level. Etienne can be a gamebreaker every time you hand him the football.
His speed isn’t the only aspect of his game that makes him tough to tackle. Etienne possesses the power to break tackles. He also has some “wiggle” and can make plenty of guys miss.
The most underrated running back is Travis Etienne. Etienne was a stud last year and has been this year, but the only issue is that the other running backs have been generating buzz. Also, with players like Trevor Lawrence and Tee Higgins, he sometimes gets overlooked on his own team.
To me, Etienne can do it all! He’s the most complete back in this draft. He’s going to blow by his defenders with his speed, he takes care of the ball, he’s a good pass catcher, and for his size, he can break tackles left and right. The potential Etienne has is unreal.
Over the last 3 years Travis Etienne has been an important piece for an elite Clemson offense. Over the last two years since given the lead, he’s had back-to-back 1500+ yards seasons with a combined 41 TDs. His numbers on the ground are slightly down from last year but so are his carries, and his usage as a receiver is up.
Out of the block he’s deadly fast and elusive. He can change games when given the ball, much like Taylor and Swift. He is a jack-of-all-trade as he can run between the tackles, outside, solid in the passing game and decent as a blocker.
The main weakness for Travis Etienne is his receiving ability. This season, he was utilized a bit more unlike previous years, recording 298 yards and two touchdowns on 29 receptions. However, Etienne still has a lot to prove to make teams confident in using him in the passing-game. Etienne does not look as elusive in the receiving-game than he does with the run. Like Taylor, Etienne will have to improve his receiving skills if he wants to boost his draft stock and become an all-around running back.
One knock that a lot of analysts have on Etienne is his impatience. It’s not like this can’t be solved, either. I really think with some maturity, Etienne will be able to develop into an all-around back. He needs work in the passing game, too. Etienne doesn’t have a great presence as a receiving back, so that part of his game will need to be worked on.
Like most young running backs Etienne needs work pass blocking. He lacks technique and his slight frame compounds on that making it the worst of both worlds. Etienne has time to work on this and improve.
With his quickness Etienne is too quick to bounce every run to the outside. He can get himself in trouble with his lack of patience. Rather than wait until the hole develops his first instinct is to go outside.
I just said Etienne is a complete back, but there’s one thing holding his back and that’s blocking. Etienne really struggles to block defenders and it could be due to his size at 5’10, 210 lbs. Other than that, there’s really not much of a concern with Etienne. He’s been a really good running back for the past two years, he might not have as much production this year compared to last year, but he has shown multiple times that he’s the real deal.
My biggest concern with Etienne is he has shown poor decision making when choosing where to run and has left yards off the board because he picked the wrong hole to run through. He has to develop more patience and better vision in the backfield if he doesn’t want issues with that in the NFL.
Other minor things he needs to develop even though I don’t think it’ll be an uphill battle is the pass game and his blocking. At Clemson he wasn’t used much as a receiver, but when he has been used, which he has been more this year, he was solid. As a blocker he’s decent but he could be developed more in that area for comfort and consistency, especially if he wants to see the field on third-down.
Draft Projection: Where will our number five running back prospect Travis Etienne land?
Travis Etienne is definitely first-round potential, but like Taylor, his lack of receiving skills might cause teams to shy away until day two. I see Etienne being an early second round pick. However, I can see teams picking late-first round like the Chiefs that could use a guy like Etienne. He would give Andy Reid another speedy guy to work with on that offense. I can also see a team like the Dolphins taking Etienne with their early second round pick if they do not take a running back in the first round.
It’s hard to say whether he will be drafted in the first round. He most likely will be taken in the second or third round as running back is a position that can be recycled.
Travis Etienne can make a team’s offense more dynamic from day one. He will likely hear his name called in the first three rounds. Teams like Miami and Washington could use a game changer like Etienne to supplement their at times complacent offenses.
Depending on the NFL combine, which I think Etienne can nail, he could be a late first-round pick or early second-round pick. Etienne’s ability is what any team would love to have in the backfield and some teams will take the chance and work on his blocking ability. I believe playoff contender teams are going to be in on Etienne and if a team like the Kansas City Chiefs pick him up, Etienne could be a massive weapon.
Etienne is definitely one of those guys who could see an increase of his stock after the combine. I think he needs to show off what he does well to scouts more to be noticed in the company of Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift. While Etienne isn’t quite on the tier of Taylor, Swift, or even Dobbins, I do believe he is the fourth or fifth best rb prospect as he doesn’t have much to go to fully develop to become an offensive weapon for a team. Improving patience and decision making in the backfield is a big hill to climb so I would put him in at the earliest in the mid-third round and the latest in the mid-fourth.