2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Travis Etienne

  • Travis Etienne, 5-10/200

  • Running Back

  • Clemson

  • Travis Etienne Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Fast
  • Acceleration
  • Quick first-step to hit the hole
  • Second gear in the open field
  • Threat to rip off a long touchdown on any carry
  • Instinctive runner
  • Good vision
  • Anticipation
  • Compact build
  • Runs hard and physically for his size
  • Elusive; has moves in the open field
  • Cutting ability
  • Quick feet
  • Receiving skills
  • Good route-runner
  • Catches with his hands
  • Good body lean
  • Runs behind pads
  • Bends at the knee
  • Decisive runner
  • Has a nose for the end zone

  • Weaknesses:
  • Fumble issues during the 2019 season
  • Could struggle to create lots of yards after contact in the NFL
  • Won’t be an asset in goal-line or short-yardage situations
  • Will need development in blitz protection
  • Frame could be maxed out

  • Summary: Clemson has become a powerhouse in college football, led by some superstar quarterbacks with tons of NFL talent on both sides of the ball recruited by Dabo Swinney. Etienne will continue the Tigers’ streak of putting running backs into the NFL as he has been a sensation since arriving on campus. As a freshman, Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry for 766 yards with 13 touchdowns. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry in 2018 for 1,658 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 78 yards and two scores that season while helping the Tigers to win the National Championship.

    Etienne has played well for the most part in 2019. The junior has averaged 8.2 yards per carry for 1,500 yards with 17 touchdowns. He also has 29 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns. It hasn’t all been good for Etienne, who demonstrated some ball-security issues against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The game against the Tar Heels was a rough tape as a blocker and runner for Etienne.

    The first trait that stand out about Etienne is his extraordinary speed. He has a sprinter’s speed, making him a threat to take any touch of the ball the length of the field for a touchdown. With his first-step quickness and burst to the hole, Etienne gets to the second level in a hurry and will explode down the field. He is so fast that he can take away angles from defenders as the runs away from the defense. Once Etienne breaks into the open field, he doesn’t get caught from behind as he is too fast to catch.

    On top of being very fast, Etienne has very good running back traits, like patience to let holes develop, vision to see lanes about to come open, and good body lean to run behind his pads. While Etienne is not a big back, he does flash some nice contact balance to maintain his feet after contact, and he has a nose for the end zone. At the college level, there have been some plays on which he picked up yards after contact and ran through some tackles. With the bigger and stronger defenders of the NFL however, Etienne will not be a back who runs over tacklers and picks up a lot of yards after contact.

    Etienne is natural and fluid in the passing game. He catches the ball with his hands and is able to run some good routes. In the NFL, he has the potential to become a good receiving back who is a dangerous weapon to rip off yards in chunks on check downs to the flat.

    Etienne will need work in blitz pick up for the NFL, like all college backs. As a pro, he would be best being paired with a big back who can help protect Etienne from getting worn down and also handle the short-yardage and goal-line situations.

    In the 2020 NFL Draft, Etienne looks like a potential pick for Day 2, although there are some in the media projecting him being selected in the first round.

    Player Comparison: Giovani Bernard. Etienne reminds me of Bernard at North Carolina. Both are smaller, fast backs who are dangerous receivers and natural runners. Neither one has great size for the NFL, and each is better being paired with big back. Bernard was a second-round pick, and Etienne could go in the same range.


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