In today’s NFL, which is more of a wide open and pass-happy league, teams do not value running backs like they did back in the days of Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.
The days of taking a running back in the first 10 picks of an NFL Draft are almost gone, while taking one in the first round is becoming less and less desirable. NFL teams feel as if they can draft a top of the line running back to fit their needs in the second or third round on most occasions.
However, former Clemson running back Travis Etienne thinks that might be a mistake for NFL teams who are thinking about passing on him in the first round.
“I am one of the best skill guys in the draft,” Etienne said Thursday following Clemson’s Pro Day at the Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson. “I’m able to do it all. I feel like I add a component to a team that can get them to the next tier.
“I feel with me being in the game, I just possess a lot of things that are God given that most guys don’t possess. I feel it is in me.”
Etienne was one of the best, if not the best, running back in the country in college football the last three seasons. Not only does he have explosive speed and quickness, but he possesses power and a low center of gravity which allows him to explode through arm tackles.
The Clemson running back, who is the all-time rushing leader in ACC history, is also a threat out of the backfield where he set single-season and career records for receptions and yards by a Clemson running back.
“If you have seen the film, I am able to be out there three downs,” he said. “I able to play special teams. I have just been able to impact the team each and every down is what makes me different and is what makes me worthy of the first-round.”
Etienne’s former college coach agrees.
“He is an every-down back. He did not come here that way, and it is not that he couldn’t, he just had not been asked to do things and was in an option type of offense that he grew up in,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said to the ACC Network. “But he is an every-down player. He can pound it between the tackles. He breaks tackles. He runs through the smoke. He can run away from people. He brings explosiveness. Every time he touches the ball you hold your breath. He is one of those guys.
“And then he is dynamic. You saw that with him this year. In fact, the last guy to do what he did in college football in rushing and receiving was Saquon Barkley. It has only been done four times in the last 20 years. So, it just shows you how dynamic he has become.”
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