ESPN's Kiper breaks down draft prospects of Etienne, Rodgers, Powell and Carman
|Monday, March 1, 2021, 2:18 PM- -|
Everyone knows that Trevor Lawrence is likely to be the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft, and Clemson fans might have to wait until day two of the draft to hear the name called of another Tiger.
The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Cleveland and Lawrence is the trendy (and logical) choice to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the top pick. The first round will be held that Thursday and the second and third rounds will be held Friday with the final rounds going on Saturday.
TigerNet spoke with NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Monday afternoon, and he told us that Clemson running back Travis Etienne is the second-best running back on the board.
“I still have him as the second-best running back, slightly ahead of Javonte Williams of North Carolina,” Kiper said. “Their grades are pretty equal, so it's Najee Harris from Alabama then either Etienne or Williams. Etienne gets the slightest of edges right now prior to Pro Day.”
As a freshman, Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry for 766 yards with 13 touchdowns. In 2018, Etienne averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 1,658 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 78 yards and two scores while helping the Tigers to win the National Championship.
Etienne played well for the most part in 2019. He averaged 8.2 yards per carry for 1,500 yards with 17 touchdowns, plus took 29 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Etienne totaled 168 carries for 914 yards - 5.4 average - and 14 touchdowns with 48 receptions for 588 yards and two scores in 2020.
Kiper said Etienne’s lower numbers in 2020 are due in large part to Clemson’s offensive line.
“He lost four starting offensive linemen. That affected Trevor (Lawrence) and also Travis Etienne. He is explosive. He can obviously catch the ball out of the backfield - he is very good at that,” Kiper said. “I think the fact that you have the ability that he has shown when he gets help from the offensive line to bust long gainers and to do the things versatility-wise you need to do like catching it is big. To me, he is a second-round pick and I've thought that all along. Some have him in the first - I have seen projections that have him going 16 (overall) to Arizona, the Jets at 23rd. I don't. I think he is a second-round pick. If JK Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor can't be first-round picks then I don't think Travis Etienne would be. But that's just me. Could he possibly? Maybe. But I think he's a solid second-rounder.”
Amari Rodgers has a chance to go early on the second day after hauling in 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns during his final campaign at Clemson in 2020.
“Amari Rodgers - great slot receiver and had a great Senior Bowl week,” Kiper said. “He has got a chance to be one of the first five, six, seven, or eight picks in the second round. So when day two kicks off, Amari Rodgers - I think hears his name called very early. Out of the rest of the Clemson guys, I think it will be Amari Rodgers. He is the highest-rated and I think he goes early second round.”
Wide receiver Cornell Powell helped himself with a solid 2020 season. Before 2020, he had never hauled in more than 20 receptions in a season. However, he caught 53 passes for 882 receptions and seven touchdowns last year.
“I think the year he had with no Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins in the NFL with the Bengals, they needed Cornell Powell and he came through,” Kiper said. “Now, will he be able to separate against NFL corners? That is the question. That is why he is more of a fifth or sixth-round pick.”
Left tackle Jackson Carman could be either a second or third-day pick.
“Jackson Carman, the left tackle, I have mixed reviews on him for me from the games where I looked at him,” Kiper said. “In some, he looked good and in some, he looked high coming out of his stance and was beaten by the quick guys. I think you are looking at a third or fourth-round grade.”