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Andy Hart is back with another edition of "Potential Patriots 2021 NFL Draft Picks" and this one focuses on Clemson University running back Travis Etienne.
ANDY HART: As we wind down our list of potential Patriots for the 2021 NFL draft, we get to some big name players who might not seem like obvious fits. And I think Travis Etienne, running back Clemson, would fill that bill-- 5' 10", 215, 4.440, absolute superstar in his time with Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers, three-time All-American, two times he had 1,600-plus yards, was an absolute playmaker at Clemson from day 1, 13 touchdowns as a rookie when he led the team in rushing.
Durable. Three straight years he started every game, surprised some people last offseason when he chose to go back to Clemson. Maybe he didn't have his most productive explosive year but did add to his contributions in the passing game-- had 48 catches, which was not only his career high but a record for a single season for a running back at Clemson. 70 career touchdowns, 7 yards per carry over the course of his career, just an absolute electric playmaker.
Some of the questions surrounding him-- is he a workhorse? Only 13 carries per start over his career. So he may not feel that true workhorse role in the NFL but certainly is explosive. But is he also a true passing back? Is his pass protection up to NFL caliber?
Some people think he is going to have a bigger role in the NFL-- more productive in the NFL than he was in college, which, honestly, would be hard to do. And the other question is, is he even the best running back in this class? Najee Harris making a bid to be the first running back taken.
Are either guys going to go in the first round? Could both guys go in the first round? Which guy would present the most value? Which guy is the most NFL-ready and fits modern NFL offenses?
Travis Etienne certainly has a lot to like as a running back. And from a Patriots perspective, uncertain future for Sony Michelle. Damien Harris has battled some injuries. James White not getting any younger. Bill Belichick loves value. Maybe late in the first round or even if Etienne slipped in the second round. Maybe Etienne would be an option for Bill Belichick and a Patriots team that looks like it's built to run the football this year and beyond.