While the front-end of the 2021 NFL Draft may be dominated by quarterbacks, the class also has their fair share of talented playmakers at the running back position — none more electric than Clemson product Travis Etienne.
Projected to be one of the top-two backs off the board alongside Alabama’s Najee Harris, Etienne will have no shortage of suitors come draft day. A two-time ACC Player of the Year, Etienne recently took part in the House of Athlete Scouting Combine, a combine-like event for prospects.
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Travis Etienne Wants to Play for the Cardinals
When pressed by Brandon Marshall, former Pro Bowl wide receiver turned FS1 analyst, where Etienne’s dream landing spot in April’s NFL Draft would be, the Louisiana native was quick to respond.
“I’m not even going to lie to you,” Etienne said. “My dream scenario is the Cardinals at 16.”
Etienne didn’t back down from his claim following Clemson’s pro day, either. If anything, he doubled down on it.
“I just thought it’d be a great scenario,” Etienne said, who clocked in with a 4.40 40-yard dash. “They just got J.J. Watt, and adding another piece to the offense seeing Kenyan Drake (in) his contract year. Just kind of putting things into place, I feel like I could go there and be a great asset to the team — I put things in perspective. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t.”
It’s worth noting that Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim was in attendance at Clemson’s pro day. Although with the recent talent coming out of Death Valley of late, that may not give much away in terms of the team’s interest in the blue-chip running back.
Cardinals Lack Depth Behind Chase Edmonds
The Cardinals have been fairly adamant in their belief that Chase Edmonds can carry the load in the backfield. Yet, With Drake taking his talents to Las Vegas, the team will undoubtedly need to add to the position at some point this offseason. Currently, the Cardinals roster three players behind Edmonds, Jonathan Ward, Eno Benjamin and Khalfani Muhammad, each of whom have combined for a total of just one touch (one reception for 11 yards) over their NFL careers.
The team could potentially skim the remaining free agency pool to find a viable option behind Edmonds. A player such as Wayne Gallman, who led the New York Giants in rushing a season ago, could certainly entice. Either way, chances are Arizona comes away from April’s draft with a running back or two — and potentially Etienne at No. 16.
“Taking a running back in the top five doesn’t make a lot of sense because by the time you’re good, you’ll have already wasted all the good mileage on the back,” NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said, via the team’s official website. “If you’ve got a team that can be a playoff-caliber team, and you want to drop in a big-time back (in the first round), I don’t have any problem with it at all. Arizona, 8-8 and right on the doorstep of being a playoff team, if he’s your highest-rated guy and you think he’s the best football player, I’d have no problem at all with them taking him.”
Checking in at 5-foot-10-inches and 215 pounds at Clemson’s pro day, Etienne has the makings of an all-purpose maven at the next level and the type of talent that could take the Cardinals offense to new heights. Over his final three seasons with the Tigers, Etienne averaged 1,761 yards from scrimmage per year and 65 total touchdowns.
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