RB Travis Etienne Jr., Clemson (5’10”, 205)
Has been an important part of Clemson’s team since his freshman season, a year in which he carried the ball 107 times for 766 yards (7.2) and 13 touchdowns. Put together two excellent seasons after that, finishing his sophomore year with a line of 204-1,658-24 (8.1) and then enjoying a similar junior line of 207-1,614-19 (7.8), seeing his receptions escalate from 12 as a sophomore to 37 as a junior and bringing him over 2,000 total yards on the year. This past year, ran 168-914-14 (5.4), catching 48-588-2 (12.3).
Highly productive back who has shown that he is capable of carrying a full load, having touched the ball over 200 times in each of his final three seasons. Comes from a shotgun offense built around run-pass options, but has extensive experience running between the tackles. Has a desirable on-field temperament. Patient when waiting for lanes to develop, but wastes no time getting upfield when he has a hole. Makes smooth cuts in the backfield to find lanes. Reaches his top speed quickly and plays the game with a physical style, refusing to shy away from contact and fighting for additional yardage. Navigates through congestion well and weaves through space very well in the open field. Has the ability to spin off of would-be tacklers in a phone booth. Contact balance is impressive. Has made big strides as a receiver and could potentially be an every-down option. Very dangerous when he finds an open lane on a swing pass, with impressive top-end speed and the ability to make defenders miss one-on-one.
Effectiveness as a runner dropped off fairly significantly as a senior. On the smaller side for a pro running back, which could create concerns given the amount of tread on his tires and his physical running style. Can run a little bit upright at times, letting defenders into his body. On delayed releases, would like to see him stay in as a blocker longer. In general, doesn’t sustain his blocks very long in blitz pickup.
Has been a major part of Clemson’s offense for his entire career, combining speed, explosiveness, and physicality with impressive receiving skills and establishing himself as a total package who could theoretically develop into an every-down starter at the pro level. Is a little bit smaller than a typical feature back, and his hard running style might worry some teams, but still stands a pretty good chance of coming off the board in the first round, offering immediate value as a runner and receiver while he develops his blocking.