Travis Etienne scouting report, potential fit with the Miami Dolphins
By Jeremy Klump
The Miami Dolphins need a legitimate starting running back, and they will likely find their RB1 in the 2021 NFL Draft. The biggest questions are which running back will they select, and where will they pick him? One of the running backs in the discussion for the Dolphins is former Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
Etienne’s collegiate stats are like a created players stats in the old NCAA Football video game. He ended his Clemson career with 4,952 rushing yards, 70 rushing touchdowns, 1,155 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns.
For all the people who hate math, that is 6,107 total yards and 78 total touchdowns in four seasons. He was a 2020 Consensus All-American and was awarded the ACC Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2019.
Etienne’s 70 career rushing touchdowns is an ACC record, 18 rushing touchdowns above 2nd place on the list. His 6,107 total yards is also an ACC record, 708 more yards than 2nd place.
Like I said, video game-type numbers for Etienne.
Etienne stands 5-10 and weighs in at 215 pounds at his Pro Day. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and added a 33.5 inch vertical and 10-8 broad jump.
Here is a scouting report and breakdown of Travis Etienne’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit with the Dolphins.
Strengths: I was actually surprised Etienne only ran a 4.41 at his Pro Day because he has breakaway speed on film. If the defense gives him a crease, he is gone. He is a big-play running back, which I love. According to NFL.com, Etienne scored 16 touchdowns of 44 or more yards. That is an elite number for a running back.
However, Etienne can do the dirty work in the red zone too. He will find the small hole and punch it in the end zone. I mean, he scored 78 career touchdowns, so this guy just finds a way to get six. It is impressive how he works to score touchdowns, and I love it.
I love the way he navigates in a hole. He has that perfect balance of patience but also ready to get going. He is such an intelligent runner, and if you need four yards, he will get you five. He always finds extra yards and picks up extra yardage by finishing runs.
His 3rd down value is elite, in my opinion. He is a willing and able blocker in pass protection, which is a huge box that needs to be checked off. He can also run routes out of the backfield efficiently. When he catches the ball, he will make plays. Etienne has Offensive Player of the Year potential with his 3-down capabilities.
Etienne has outstanding balance while he runs, and he just finds a way to avoid tacklers and make big plays. It is so refreshing to watch a running back with his body control.
Weaknesses: One of my biggest knocks on Etienne before I really dove into the film was that he just had this weirdness to his game. I mean that sometimes when he was running, he looked off, but when you really dive into his film, you see it is just his strides.
Those big strides can hurt him in short-yardage situations, but I do not see it being a significant issue in the NFL. I think his quick burst helps him recover when his strides slow him down.
Etienne can catch the ball out of the backfield, but sometimes he drops a pass, and it confuses me. It is almost like he is fighting the ball and afraid of it, but he got better with it in 2020. I do not think he has drop issues, but it is worth noting that he may drop a pass or two out of the backfield.
He will need to improve his ball security the most in the NFL, as he lost seven fumbles in his career. However, ball security should be something he can easily improve upon in the NFL, and it is more about putting in the work than anything. I think he will put in the work.
NFL Comparison: For those of you that know me, this will be high praise here. He reminds me of Alvin Kamara with a nice little mix of Le’Veon Bell. He reminds me of Kamara, the way he can balance his body with hits and stay on his feet and extend plays. He is also able to take over a game running the ball or catching it.
Just like Kamara, he finds his way to the end zone no matter what. He is a patient runner like Kamara, but this is where the Bell mix comes into play. The way Etienne can navigate through a hole, and once he sees it, he bursts through, reminds me of Bell when he was elite for Pittsburgh years ago.
Overall Impression: Etienne is a DUDE. He is going to be a big-time player in the NFL. This will hurt many Dolphins fans’ feelings, but Etienne is my RB1 in the 2021 NFL Draft. I think he is better than Najee Harris, and he will have a better NFL career than Harris because of that elite burst he has, and Harris doesn’t.
This guy will be a featured back for a team ready to give him the ball 25+ times a game, whether that is rushing or receiving. Etienne should thrive in today’s NFL, and his 3rd down value will have him high on many draft boards.
Grade: 1st round, No. 1 running back in the 2021 NFL Draft
Fit with the Dolphins: Etienne’s fit with the Dolphins is obvious. He would become an instant star in Miami and be able to plug right into their RPO-based offense. I do not think Miami should take a running back at pick 18, but Etienne should be the pick over Harris if they do.
Etienne is going to be a touchdown machine in the NFL, and defensive coordinators will struggle to game plan for him because he can do it all. Etienne was incredible at Clemson, and I see him continuing his dominance in the NFL. If a team needs a running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, this should be their guy.