When Travis Etienne was selected No. 25 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft last week, some people asked, “Why?”
Though the former Clemson running back was one of the best players in college football the last three years, the Jaguars appeared to have already had their No. 1 running back.
James Robinson, who was an undrafted free agent last year, rushed for more than a 1,000 yards in his rookie season at Jacksonville. He was one of the few bright spots in what was a horrible year for the Jaguars.
He has become one of the Jaguars fans’ favorite players in Jacksonville. So Why did Urban Meyer and the Jaguars take Etienne with their second pick in the first round.
NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said on Path to the Draft last week he believes Jacksonville selected the ACC’s all-time rushing leader because they feel like he will ultimately become their star running back.
“This is a difficult one because James Robinson had a 1,000-yard season as an undrafted rookie, and he’s celebrated down there in Duval,” Brooks said. “However, there’s a faster kid coming to town in Travis Etienne. We talk about him being a third-down back, I think that will last for maybe a minicamp and a couple of OTA practices.”
Etienne completed one of the most prolific careers in Clemson, ACC and college football history from 2017-20, becoming a consensus All-American in 2020 after winning back-to-back ACC Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019. He departed for the NFL as the FBS record-holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games) as well as the ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points scored (468).
“Travis Etienne is going to be the (the starter). Too dynamic, too explosive, too versatile to be left on the sideline,” Brooks said. “I think it’s only a matter of time before Travis Etienne gets the job and we see him put up big numbers.”
Etienne was just Clemson’s third first-round running back in the Common Draft era, joining Terrence Flagler (No. 25 in 1987) and current Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller (No. 9 in 2010). He joined Spiller, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson (No. 32 in 2012), Virginia’s Thomas Jones (No. 7 in 2000) and Florida State’s Warrick Dunn (No. 12 in 1997) as the fifth ACC running back selected in the first round in the last 25 years.
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