The Buffalo Bills have made a series of acquisitions to improve the passing game this offseason, and an insider suggests a big move to upgrade the backfield could be next.
In a recent mock draft, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has the Bills taking the player many see as the top-ranked running back as an additional weapon to open up the offense. The move would address one of the biggest areas of weakness last season while adding another potential target for Josh Allen after snagging free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jacob Hollister in free agency.
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Bills Take Clemson Running Back
The mock draft has Buffalo using the No. 30 overall pick to take Clemson running back Travis Etienne, with the NFL analyst and former Bills wide receiver noting that it could be a strong fit for both. In the analysis for NFL.com, Brooks wrote that Etienne could give the Bills what they were missing last season and could be needed to get the team over the hump.
“The Josh Allen Show is must-see TV, but the Bills’ offense needs more firepower in the backfield to knock off the heavyweights in the AFC,” Brooks noted. “Etienne is not only more explosive and dynamic than the current running backs on the roster (Devin Singletary and Zack Moss), but he is more likely to thrive as a three-down back in the Bills’ wide-open offense.”
— TheBillsWire (@TheBillsWire) March 19, 2021
Brooks praised Etienne’s skills, saying his combination of speed, burst, and acceleration could cause mismatch problems for defenses. His skills as a receiver could also give Allen the strong target out of the backfield that he lacked last season, Brooks added.
Etienne Seen As Top Back
The Clemson running back is seen as one of the top among his position in the upcoming draft. Pro Football Focus noted that he profiles as a top-tier running back, adding that his receiving prowess stands out.
“Cam Akers is the closest comparable player, though there should be even more upside for Etienne if he’s taken much earlier in the draft,” the report noted.
Most 15+ catches among RBs since 2019:
1. Travis Etienne, Clemson – 25
2. Demetric Felton, UCLA – 17
3. Najee Harris, Alabama – 15
3. Lopini Katoa, BYU – 15 pic.twitter.com/qvn4ilDsaX
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 16, 2021
There are others who see Etienne as a strong fit for the Bills. ESPN’s Todd McShay had Buffalo snagging the Clemson back with their first-round pick in his mock draft, writing that he could be a significant upgrade over the running back tandem the Bills employed last year.
“The missing piece of this offense is an elite running back. Buffalo didn’t have a single player break 700 rushing yards last season, and its running backs found pay dirt just eight times on the ground,” he wrote. “But Etienne scored 70 times over his college career and is a home run hitter in space. This offense could be dangerous.”
Pro Football Focus predicted the Bills could address the other side of the ball with their top pick. In its own mock draft, the outlet had Buffalo taking Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II with the first-round selection, noting that he finished the year with their 10th-best coverage grade, allowing a 31.7 passer rating this season.