Prospect Profile: RB Travis Etienne
Jake Pittman - 1/22/2021

Prospect Profile: RB Travis Etienne

 

Player Overview:

Travis Etienne is a 5’10" 205 pound RB from Clemson University. Etienne has had an incredibly productive college career compiling 4952 yards and 70 touchdowns adding 102 catches for 1155 yards and 9 touchdowns through the air during his 4 years. He was expected to declare for the draft last season, but he came back to school for another season without changing his projected draft position drastically.

 

Scouting Report:

Travis Etienne is a speedy one-cut back who thrives on his ability to accelerate past defenders using his twitchiness and straight-line speed. His burning speed is going to draw a lot of attention from scouts and he should run a great time at his pro day and the NFL Combine. Even when defenders think they have the angle on him, Etienne torches them and makes pursuit incredibly difficult. Etienne has good vision and explodes through the line of scrimmage breaking off chunk plays before defenders can even make contact with him. He has improved as receiver out of the back fieldevery season he was at Clemson. He has fluid hands and sufficient route running ability. He is elite in the screen game with his ability to find a crease and accelerate quickly down the field.

Etienne doesn’t have great patience, and oftentries to hit a hole before it fully develops. Even though he is more of a slender back, he has still shown the ability to break tackles, but not at the elite level as other backs in the class like Najee Harris. His biggest concern is one that comes with a lot of rookie backs and that is his ability in pass protection. Etienne has to improve in pass protection for coaches to be able to trust him on 3rd downs.

His explosive playmaking ability, straight-line speed, and potential pass-catching prowess project him to be solid NFL starter. I expect him to be drafted in the 2nd Round in the 2021 NFL Draft. There is a chance with him, just like with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, for a team to fall in love with his skillset and draft him in the late 1st round.

 

Player Comparison:

Etienne reminds me of former Kansas City Chiefs, among other teams, runningback Jamaal Charles. They are both incredibly fast backs who excel at sticking their foot in the ground and getting up field fast. Jamaal Charles shows what Etienne’s NFL ceiling could possibly be. I project his career path to be a solid starting running back in this league for as long as his body can hold up. It may take him a couple years to control that role in the offense he is drafted to.

 

Most Likely Landing Spots:

Pittsburgh Steelers:

The James Conner experience is coming to an end in Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin is well known for wanting to have a bell cow running back and Etienne could find himself competing for the role with Benny Snell. James Conner showed promise in his time filling in for Le’Veon Bell during his hold-out year, but since then injuries and a lack of production has plagued his time as the featured back, and now may be the time for Tomlin to move on to a younger, faster runner. If Etienne were to land on the Steelers he would be one of the most high-upside late-round running backs in this year’s fantasy drafts.

Seattle Seahawks:

Chris Carson is an outstanding back when he is on the field, but he has also had a tough time doing that. While Carson will still be the feature back in Seattle for the foreseeable future, Rashaad Penny, the former first rounder, missed the entire year and Etienne could step into his place as the future of the position for the team. He would be exciting to watch next to Russell Wilson, but his immediate fantasy relevance would probably be nothing more than a low-end RB3 and a high-end handcuff for Chris Carson.

Houston Texans:

As we’ve seen with the previous teams, David Johnson is an aging back who seems to be losing a step every year. The management of the franchise is starting to feel the pressure from fans, players and specifically quarterback Deshaun Watson. New GM Nick Caserio may feel the need to draft weapons to surround Watson with to keep him happy, and Etienne, who also went to Clemson though not at the same time, could be one of these weapons that Watson would want to add to his arsenal. Etienne would have a similar outlook with the Texans as he would with the Seahawks since David Johnson still seems to be the lead back for the immediate future. I would project him to be a RB3 with the upside of becoming the starter due to a David Johnson benching or injury.

 

Summary:

Travis Etienne projects to be a solid RB at the next level, with the explosiveness to make big plays in the run and pass game. If he lands in a spot where he can earn the starting job, he could have a very fantasy relevant rookie year.

 

End.

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