One month before the draft (April 29), the editorial staff of touchdownactu offers you its annual « draft sheet ». 80 players, 40 in attack and 40 in defense, among the best university players, who will make your favorite NFL team happy in 2021.
Travis Etienne – Runner – Clemson
Cut : 1m78
Weight : 92 kg
Estimated draft position: end of 1st round/2nd round
Stats 2020: 914 yards and 14 TDs on the ground, 588 yards and 2 aerial TDs
NFL Comparison: Alvin Kamara (Saints)
– Run and pass
Lively with disconcerting changes of support, Travis Etienne knows how to pierce the defenses in a spectacular way. Travis « ETN » can run in the center or outside, entering the defender or bypassing him with a cut or a spin move (change of direction or wrapping around him). He is that kind of runner who knows how to sneak past defenders. Extremely productive with Clemson (record holder of yards in the ACC conference), it was however not overused, by a team using each season a committee at the post. Originally from Louisiana, he brings some similarities with Alvin Kamara, the player from New Orleans.
Because, an essential prerequisite for the NFL, Travis Etienne also knows how to catch balls and contribute in the aerial game. His range of routes is far from complete but he can offer a solution to a quarterback under pressure. His explosive qualities then allow him to gain yards after receptions. Poor blocker his first university season, he also progressed in this essential area to play in the NFL.
Travis Etienne plays a position that is less and less considered. The NFL attacks are more and more aerial so the franchises prioritize other positions in the draft, before considering the recruitment of a runner. In addition, each year a very large contingent of runners coming out of the university ranks presents itself to the draft so, why rush? A good level runner will be present during the following laps, think most general managers. Yet in 2020, eleven runners exceeded 1000 yards over the season. Eight have thus helped their teams to go to the playoffs. 8 out of 11. Coincidence? Travis Etienne has the qualities to join the club of the ten best at his position among the pros.
Travis Etienne is not a light runner however he is not the type to pound defenses for 60 minutes. His qualities would be optimized with another stronger rider at his side. In 2020, Clemson’s offensive line got a facelift after the departures of John Simpson (Raiders), Tremayne Anchrum (Rams) and Sean Pollard. The effectiveness of Travis Etienne was felt. He’s not like a Najee Harris (Alabama) with less need than him to have a high-performance Oline.
Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, Falcons, 49ers, Cardinals
If the Dolphins have a committee of correct runners, the young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would benefit from being able to rely on such a playmaker. Same observation for Jets missing a number 1 runner. The Steelers’ ground game was catastrophic in 2020: 82 yards per game, the worst NFL result. The new Falcons coach was with the Titans in 2020, so Arthur Smith knows what a top runner brings to an offense.
In NFC West, the Cardinals must replace Kenyan Drake and a Murray-Etienne duo would be enough to boost their attack. The 49ers themselves are heading towards the selection of a young quarterback in the 2020 draft: if Travis Etienne were to be available at choice 43, John Lynch could ignore more urgent needs and afford a dream duo for the » play action” by Kyle Shanahan.