Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
W: 210 lbs
Etienne is as much of a quick and speedy runner, as he is a tough runner who bounces off would-be tacklers. He has great acceleration that doesn’t require much of a runway to get to top speed. He also has long speed that allows him to really break away from defenders and not get chased down. Along with his speed, Etienne is a shifty running back that cuts on a dime and effectively gets skinny to go through tight holes and has great vision. He’s just as great diving inside as he is working to the outside. Etienne keeps his feet moving and is hard to bring down, using effective stiff arms and spin moves to get defenders off of him. He has excellent ball security, having never fumbled in three seasons at Clemson.
Etienne is a fantastic running back prospect, and therefore he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. However, the biggest thing he needs to improve on is his impact in the passing game. He isn’t much of an asset for Clemson in the passing game, and a big part of that is his limited route tree. Most of his catches come from checkdowns or running back screens. Also, Etienne is on the smaller side, so you won’t see him bowling over many defenders, even when necessary.
I was a huge fan of Etienne last year and I was shocked that he didn’t declare. That being said, 2020 was a great running back class and Etienne projects to be the best one in 2021. He has a great blend of speed, quickness, agility, and balance that creates a do-it-all running back prospect in the running game. Etienne can win inside the tackles with his great acceleration and ability to get skinny, and can win outside the tackles with his speed and agility. He needs to develop his route tree so he can be more of an asset in Clemson’s passing game. The NFL is looking at running backs to contribute in the passing game more than ever now. As a big believer of Etienne, I project him to be the first running back off the board in the 2021 Draft and a top-15 selection.