Most people were surprised when four-star prospect Travis Etienne decided to come back for his senior year after back-to-back 1,600-yard seasons. But playing another season did not hurt his draft grade as Etienne has elevated himself to be one of the top backs in the 2021 Draft and could go as high as round one. The 2020 consensus All-American as an all-purpose athlete has all the tools to be a three-down back in the NFL.
The Tigers’ standout rusher finished as the ACC career record-holder in rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78) and rushing touchdowns (70). He also added 102 receptions for 1,155 yards and eight scores, making him a dangerous threat as both runner and receiver. Etienne was named ACC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and was a 2020 Doak Walker Award finalist, given to the nation’s best running back.
Film Review: Strengths and Weaknesses
When you watch Etienne, his speed and acceleration are elite. Etienne is a threat to break a big play every time he touches the ball. He has explosive acceleration, which makes him a lethal threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Etienne was public about his receiving ability before the 2019 season, saying that he was not a confident pass-catcher and needed to improve that skill. The speedster’s hard work resulted in 37 and 48 receptions in the following two seasons.
The star rusher is not just a speed back. Etienne has excellent contact balance and can bounce off tacklers for extra yards. He also has good lateral movement and uses quick cuts to make people miss. When you combine these traits with his elite speed and acceleration, it is easy to see why he is the ACC career record holder in touchdowns.
If there is any part of his game that could improve, it is his vision. There are times when Etienne is not patient enough to let the hole develop. Impatience is a common trait for fast running backs who can bust a big play on every run. But this should not prevent him from being a first or second-round pick in the NFL Draft, as teams will covet his all-around game and work ethic.
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