Preseason Player Analysis
What You Need to Know:
- Etienne was a 4-year producer at Clemson, racking up 4,952 yards and 70 TDs on 7.2 yards per carry, plus 102 catches for 1,155 yards and 8 TDs.
- He topped 1,600 rushing yards in both 2018 and 2019 but dipped to 914 this past year behind a much weaker offensive line. Etienne still ranked 46th in yards after contact per attempt and 60th in missed tackles forced per attempt among 238 qualifiers.
- Etienne made big strides as a pass-catcher throughout his 4 years on campus. He totaled just 17 catches over his first 2 seasons but then posted 37-432-4 and 48-588-2 receiving lines. Etienne earned an elite 90.9 Pro Football Focus receiving grade in 2020.
- Etienne goes 5’10, 215 pounds and clocked a 4.45-second 40 time at his Pro Day. He registered an 80th percentile Speed Score and a 91st percentile Relative Athletic Score.
- The Jaguars made Etienne the 25th overall pick of this year’s draft. He became just the 9th first-round RB over the last 5 drafts (including Najee Harris this year).
- Etienne’s role this season is a bit of a mystery as we look towards training camp and the preseason. Here’s what we know ...
- New HC Urban Meyer actually admitted that he was hoping to land WR Kadarius Toney at pick #25 but pivoted to Etienne when Toney went to the Giants.
- Here’s what Meyer said about his backfield right after the draft: “I see Carlos [Hyde] and James [Robinson] the 1-2, downhill, powerful running backs. And I see Travis -- there's times where we could be in two-backs and Travis is a guy that goes out [wide]. Or we're still playing with it, but he's certainly a third-down back and he's a guy that's a matchup issue for the defense.”
- Etienne practiced exclusively at WR during rookie minicamp.
- Meyer in mid-May: “Like I said, worst case scenario is you have a running back that's elite with receiver skills and best case scenario he's a legitimate dual threat guy.”
- Meyer has mentioned Percy Harvin, Parris Campbell and Curtis Samuel -- 3 guys he coached in college -- when discussing Etienne’s role. Harvin averaged 3.7 catches and 5.4 carries per game under Meyer; Campbell 3.3 catches and .5 carries; Samuel 2.7 catches and 4.3 carries.
- OC Darrell Bevell has a history of committee backfields. He’s had at least 2 RBs reach 100 opportunities (carries + targets) in 8 of 14 seasons.
- RB James Robinson returns after racking up 240 carries for 1,070 yards and 7 scores, plus a 49-344-3 receiving line as a rookie last year.
- Robinson went undrafted last spring, though, and has no ties to Jacksonville’s new regime.
- He was also just average in most efficiency metrics last year, ranking 33rd in avoided tackles per attempt, 12th in yards after contact per attempt, 16th in Pro Football Focus rushing grade and 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA among 47 RBs with 100+ carries.
- Jacksonville also added Carlos Hyde to the RB corps this offseason. Hyde played his final 2 seasons at Ohio State under Meyer.
- Rookie Trevor Lawrence is a much-needed QB upgrade for the Jags and should boost the entire offense.
- Jacksonville returns all 5 starters from an offensive line that ranked 25th in Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades but 11th in adjusted line yards last year. OTs Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor are 25 and 23 years old, respectively, and capable of taking steps forward in 2021.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Etienne checks all the boxes as a prospect: impressive tape, a strong production profile, plus athleticism and 1st-round draft capital. He looks capable of making an immediate impact in both the running and passing games.
The question is how he’ll be deployed by HC Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. If Etienne is a RB that plays a big role in the passing game, he should be an every-week fantasy starter. If he’s more of a slot receiver/gadget guy, his value will be much shakier.
Etienne’s usage will be 1 of the biggest fantasy storylines of the summer.