Rookie Tank Bigsby has gotten lots of praise ahead of 2023 and he hasn't even played a down in the NFL. While he could end up making a huge impact for the Jacksonville Jaguars next season, there's an equal chance he won't get much playing time behind Travis Etienne, whom Adam Schein of NFL Media sees as a guaranteed raiser.
Schein drew up a list of players he thinks will improve in 2023 and included Etienne, pointing out that he burst out into the scene last year but expect him to be even better next season.
"Despite piling up 1,125 rushing yards at a healthy 5.1 per carry and catching 35 passes, Etienne somehow ended up hitting paydirt just five times. That's confounding, given his big-play ability. I foresee a big jump to 12-15 touchdowns in 2023, along with 1,300 rushing yards and 50 catches. Trevor Lawrence loves his former Clemson teammate, and the Jaguars' passing attack is going to flourish this fall. With Calvin Ridley joining the party on the perimeter, Etienne's going to have room to operate out of the backfield."
Etienne, the 25th overall pick in the 2021 draft, missed his rookie campaign after suffering a Lisfranc injury in the preseason. He spent last year rehabilitating in the spring and started the season behind James Robinson, who also recovered from an Achilles tear he suffered in 2021.
Even though Etienne didn't get much playing time early in the season, he eventually took over as the starter and pushed Robinson out of the picture. Not having to worry about the pre-draft progress or rehab, the former Clemson Tiger can focus on working on his craft his offseason.
Can Jaguars RB Travis Etienne get 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2023?
All things considered, it wouldn't be farfetched to see Etienne eclipsing the 1,300-yard mark and reaching the end zone 10 times next season. On the other hand, it might be a bit tougher for him to score 15 touchdowns and tally 50 catches.
First thing first, Etienne no longer has to worry about his foot and should have a big workload despite the additions of Tank Bigsby and D'Ernest Johnson in the offseason. That should lead to an uptick in production. Also, the interior offensive line should be better than it was last year.
Right guard Brandon Scherff should bounce back after having somewhat of a down year in 2022. Similarly, second-year center Luke Fortner should improve in his second season under offensive line coach Phil Rauscher. And even if left guard Ben Bartch isn't ready for the open, veteran Tyler Shatley could step in his place in the lineup.
Another thing to keep in mind, the Lisfranc tear Etienne suffered in 2021 was the first major injury of his football career, so him getting hurt isn't something the Jaguars' brass isn't seemingly worried about. Sure, they manage his workload but he won't have any limitations in practice, so why it could be hard for him to get 50 receptions and 15 rushing touchdowns?
Simple, the Jags have a plethora of weapons on offense, with Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Calvin Ridley at the top of their receiver depth chart. On top of that, Evan Engram will return for at least one more season after getting the franchise earlier his year. Last but not least, Etienne could lose some touches, especially near the end zone to either Bigsby or Johnson.
Then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing and if the Jacksonville Jaguars light up the scoreboard next season, Etienne won't probably mind seeing some of his touches go to other skill-position players.