Fun: Travis Etienne, Running Back, Clemson
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected receiver CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma, despite having pressing needs at other positions, and two WR1-caliber pass-catchers already on their roster.
The Titans selecting Etienne would be the running back equivalent of that. Despite having needs in other positions, and a defense that ranked among the league’s worst in 2020, Tennessee could get wild in the 2021 Draft to build what might be the greatest running back duo in NFL history with Etienne and Derrick Henry.
Not only is Etienne the total package at running back, but he excels in the one area of Henry’s game that isn’t stellar, the ability to thrive as a pass-catcher. Etienne could provide value beyond being a fresh set of legs when Henry needs a breather, he could be a bonafide asset to the team on any down and any situation. Only the Ravens ran the ball more than Tennessee in 2021, and while Henry’s dominance in 2020 is indisputable, the need for a 1B running back to Henry’s 1A might be greater than we assume.
Running backs in the NFL don’t often thrive past their early seasons, and Henry will be 28 years old by the time the 2022 season wraps up. Clearly, he’s still got juice left in the tank. But after leading the league in carries for the past two seasons, time is bound to catch up to Henry eventually.
Etienne could be an impact player and could learn from Henry to be built up as Tennessee’s heir apparent at the position. Practical? No. Not at all. But it would make for a fun backfield.