The Jacksonville Jaguars' chances of making a deep playoff run in 2023 would take a significant hit if they lost Trevor Lawrence for a significant period of time. But Lawrence isn't the only player the Jags are dependent on to succeed next season. Running back Travis Etienne has also become an important piece of their offensive puzzle, which leads Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports to believe he's the non-quarterback player Jacksonville can't afford to lose.
Benjamin put together a list of non-quarterback players each NFL team can't afford to lose and Etienne was the pick for the Jaguars, noting that they fared well without wide receiver Calvin Ridley last year while Etienne was responsible for over 1,400 total yards.
"Why not new WR1 Calvin Ridley? Well, Trevor Lawrence and Co. fared reasonably well without him and 2022. Etienne, on the other hand, is an underrated multipurpose safety valve for the young QB quietly accounting for 1,400+ scrimmage yards in his debut."
Benjamin brings up a solid point. Ridley wasn't on the Jaguars' roster last year and they still manage to win the AFC South and make the playoffs. On the other hand, Etienne was the No. 2 running back behind James Robinson to start the season but eventually became the starter. The fact that he was so effective despite the fact that he was coming off a Lisfranc injury makes his 2022 production even more impressive.
Without having to worry about rehab like he did last offseason, Etienne can now focus on the finer details of the position and even after the addition of Tank Bigsby and D'Ernest Johnson, he should be able to put similar or better numbers than last year.
But is RB Travis Etienne the Jaguars most valuable non-QB player?
The Jaguars wouldn't have traded James Robinson if they didn't think Travis Etienne could be a featured back but he might not be their most valuable non-quarterback player ahead of the 2023 season, even if you leave wide receiver Calvin Ridley out of the equation.
The Jaguars' pass rush could be in trouble if they miss outside linebacker Josh Allen. Although the former Kentucky isn't in the same echelon as Nick Bosa or Maxx Crosby, he's Jacksonville's best edge rusher and they could have trouble getting after the quarterback if he suffered an injury... or left.
Also, the Jags' ability to cover opposing wide receivers would be compromised if they lost third-year cornerback Tyson Campbell, who excels at neutralizing an offense's No. 1 target. If he went down with an injury, Tre Herndon would most likely take his place and while he can hold his own, there would be a steep dropoff.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars should be able to effectively run the ball without Etienne. D'Ernest Johnson excelled when called upon during his four-year stint with the Cleveland Browns while rookie Tank Bigsby has the skill set to be a three-down back in the NFL. This begs the question, is Etienne truly Jacksonville's best non-quarterback player?
There's no doubt Etienne is an integral part of the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense and his impact can't be understated. However, they can afford to be without him for a few games due to how stacked their running back is ahead of the 2023 season.