Should Jaguars RB Travis Etienne be the Day 1 starter?

Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne # 9(Russell Costanza-USA TODAY Sports)
Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne # 9(Russell Costanza-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a workhorse running back in James Robinson but they threw a curveball ball at everyone when they used a first-round pick on Travis Etienne in the 2021 NFL Draft. They now have a dynamic running back tandem, but should Etienne start ahead of Robinson in the season opener?

Chris Roling of Bleacher Report recently wrote about rookies the won’t start on Day 1 but should and Etienne made the list. He points out that Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said the Clemson standout will be a third-down back but believes he should be more than that, as first-round running backs are supposed to be three-down players.

Roling acknowledges that Etienne won’t see a heavy workload because of Robinson, who totaled 1,414 total yards from scrimmage last season, and the presence of veteran Carlos Hyde. However, he believes the former Tigers running back should have a bigger role on the Jags’ offense and finds his planned usage perplexing, as he racked up nearly 5,000 rushing yards and scored 70 touchdowns at Clemson.

The bottom line is that Roling doesn’t think teams should use a first-round pick on a running back but if you are going to do it, at least make him your main ball-carrier, something the Jags don’t plan to do right off the bat.

"A first-round back needs to be a three-down back, not a third-down back. Etienne’s performance should correct the incorrect label pretty quickly, but for now, he is a primary example of this theme."

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a clear idea of how to use Travis Etienne.

While everyone expected the Jaguars to take quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in 2021’s draft, not many predicted — there were a few exceptions — that they would use pick 25 on Etienne.

Roling is not alone when he says the running back position is devalued and drafting one with a first-round selection is puzzling. Nevertheless, it looks like the Jaguars have a clear idea of how they plan to use Etienne. Last year, Robinson had the highest percentage of a team’s carries in the NFL and Jacksonville will now be able to manage his workload.

Also, labeling Etienne a third-down back may be unfair, as the Jags will most likely make him a big part of the offense. It’s true that you would want to see your first-round selections contribute in every play but if three-time First-team All-ACC can become a key cog on the Jaguars offense, nobody will call it a bad pick.

The Jaguars look for ways to improve their offense this year and if Etienne becomes the playmaker he was at Clemson, they should be able to put many more points on the scoreboard than they did in 2020.

Next. 3 realistic expectations for James Robinson in 2021. dark