Projection: Valuable Asset

April 20th, 2021

Total package.

OK, it’s time once again boys and girls to play “Beat Joe Up” because Joe likes a player the Bucs can certainly use, especially beginning next year when the cupboard may be bare.

And that player is Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

Joe likes the good people of Football Outsiders, mainly because they have open minds.

Now numbers guys being numbers guys, you just know they had to devise a formula of hocus pocus to gauge the talent level of players. And per their sorcery, Etienne is the top running back to have success in the NFL. Nathan Forster breaks it down.

Etienne’s best statistic is his yards per attempt. Etienne averaged 7.22 yards per carry over his college career, which is outstanding. Indeed, only three running backs in BackCAST’s database had a better adjusted yards per attempt than Etienne. The metric definitely has some diminishing returns, as the three top running backs in the metric (Melvin Gordon, Darrell Henderson, and Rashaad Penny) have had mixed success. However, more efficient college running backs have succeeded at a greater rate than less efficient ones, so Etienne’s success on a per-play basis is a definite plus.

Etienne’s size-speed ratio also better than average. The average drafted running back is just over 215 pounds with a 4.54s 40-yard dash. Etienne weighed in at 215 pounds but was fast, running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. …

Etienne’s final plus is that he was strong in the receiving game. Even if Etienne ultimately does not pan out as a pure runner, he will likely add value as a receiver.

Just a reminder, the two running backs who accounted for 88 percent of the Bucs’ rushing total last year, Ronald Jones and Playoff Lenny, both have their contracts expiring after the season as does new running back Giovani Bernard.

It’s not a stretch to suggest, just based on today’s roster, your No. 1 running back for 2022 could be Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

You good with that? He had a paltry 109 yards rushing last season and was inactive in the team’s biggest playoff games.

Even with RoJo, Playoff Lenny and Giovani, you can bet Etienne will get touches if Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht drafts him.

Power, speed and good hands. What more do you need in a running back?

Don’t fret, folks, only about nine more days of reading/fantasizing over the Bucs drafting Etienne.

42 Responses to “Projection: Valuable Asset”

  1. Nick2 Says:

    Im not going to beat you up I am totally in favor of taking this guy for the pick 32. Your exactly right this will keep our salary cap in check and hes an every down back. We need this guy but I am doubting we take him.

  2. Durango 95 Says:

    If they draft him @32 (assuming he’s still on the board) that would be great. Copious amounts of dissenting opinion can be found below.

  3. DingleBerry Says:

    No one can fault you for liking Etienne. He’s a heck of prospect and will likely become a very good NFL player. And I wanted him too before we signed Gio and adequately addressed the needs we had at RB.

    The current state of our running back room is crowded. Rojo, Playoff Lenny and Gio, unless they have exceptionally special years which would be great for us anyway, will not price themselves out of returning to Tampa in 2022.

    Unless you have a bona fide gamebreaker ala Christian McCaffrey or Derrick Henry, you simply don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to re-sign/sign productive running backs and as Bruce Arians has made known, he doesn’t overpay for that position.

    We can absolutely draft for depth/the future at certain positions, but we just don’t need to at running back. You like to reference a lot how the Bucs don’t need to do this or do that (specifically arguing against the need to sign a receiving back which you’ve written about several times and discussed on the Ira pod) because they won the Super Bowl so clearly they don’t NEED a receiving back. Well, by that same token, The Bucs just won the Super Bowl with the 28th ranked rushing attack, so clearly they don’t NEED to take a running back in the 1st round.

    So clearly having a top flight running game, while nice to have, isn’t all that important especially compared to other areas of the team. Like the dominant young offensive line, the stout defensive line loaded with grizzled vets, the speedy and ferocious Linebackers, a truly elite WR/TE group, and the blossoming young secondary. All of these things are more important than and can outweigh having an average-below average RB room.

    We can get more value out of the pick if we address a more important position. Despite whatever juice Etienne has. Even if he’s there, which he likely won’t be. All that being said I wouldn’t protest if Etienne was a Buc next season.

  4. K2 Says:

    I would be very happy if the Bucs added another quality RB….in this years draft and Etienne is absolutely solid in all aspects of the game.

    But making Vaughn the number one is a stretch even if they didn’t re-sign expired contracts. If Vaughn has a very strong year…it is possible he could be a number 1. More likely the Bucs will have at least 3 new backs if they don’t re-sign any of the expired contracts.

    It’s like saying if Evans, Godwin, Miller, and Johnson get injured the Bucs will be thin at WR. True…but hopefully not likely.

  5. Alanbucsfan Says:

    This story smells like Joe is just hot on the idea of replacing RoJo.
    The Bucs are pretty much set at RB – they’re not using their 1st pick for that position this year- there will be several quality DB’s OLinemen and receivers available.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Didn’t this article just run the other day?……

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Not the exact same article….but very similar.

  8. Bruce Blahak Says:

    2022 is next year. These are the win now Bucs. DE-DB-LB

  9. Ben green Says:

    @DingleBerry is right Joe. Go look at the last 10 champions running backs. It’s a who’s who of bums, has-beens, and washouts. Not to say a running game isn’t important. that has more to do with line play and attitude. You can go to far with the idea though. You need a capable back who can do a lot of things.

  10. Beeej Says:

    Does this mean the Bucs would carry 5 backs instead of 4, or would they cut/trade someone? I don’t think they’ve had enough of a look at Vaughn to make a determination

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The logic of drafting a player because we may not keep a player at that position in 2022 doesn’t make sense..

    So…we draft Etienne because of Rojo & Fournette possibly leaving..

    What about other positions…..Suh, JPP, Gronk, Howard, Jensen, Cappa, Davis & others… would have to make the same argument for them.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe you’re turning into a pimp for Etienne lately. I’m not saying he’s not a very good RB, but let’s face it, he’s no Najee Harris. Walter Football lists Etienne at 5’10” & 200 lbs but maybe he’s ballooned up to 215 lbs in prep for the NFL. No question that he’s fast, but he did have some ball security & fumbling issues last year. He also played with the best QB in college football (which probably helped) and didn’t do all that well against ranked teams last year in Clemson’s 2 losses (1.56 YPR against Notre Dame on 18 carries & 3.2 YPR against Ohio State on 109 carries).

    Najee on the other hand is a beast (6’2″ & 230 lbs) who’s tough as nails & pretty quick himself , especially for a BIG back. The SEC is considerably tougher than the ACC IMO, but still Harris was a dominant back on an undefeated team. Against the 2 teams that Etienne struggled against Harris did better (8.33 YPR against Notre Dame gaining 125 yds on 15 carries, and 3.59 YPR against Ohio State in the National Championship game gaining 79 yds on 22 carries & scoring 2 TDs). I’d take Harris over Etienne all day long.

    Having said that though, I’d still prefer that the Bucs go DEFENSE with their picks in the first 3 rounds. You seem to be concerned that RoJo, Fournette & Bernard will all be FAs next season, which is valid, BUT … JPP, Suh, Vea, Gholston, McLendon are all FAs next season too. And all but Vea are getting up there in age. Time to start restocking the cupboard now, not waiting until it goes bare.

  13. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I like Etienne, too. I like some of the edge rushers, also. The Bucs know more about the potential draft picks that most of us ever would. I just hope (yes, hope) that Joe doesn’t think “they blew it” (as he did when they didn’t take an edge rusher at #5 a few years back) if the Bucs don’t draft Etienne and go in a different direction.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Wow, 109 carries in 1 game. Better make that 10 carries (no idea how that 9 snuck in there).

  15. Steve Jackson Says:

    Edge is more important. Not opposed to this pick. Think he would be a good one but there are a couple edge guys that may be available at this slot that pains me to say might be a better pick. Actually, I am in the trade the pick camp.

  16. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says:
    April 20th, 2021 at 5:46 pm
    Didn’t this article just run the other day?……

    The only thing missing is Johnny Foosball in the background holding a sparkler and smoking a cigar.

    Joe must have been run out of Iowa for stalking….

  17. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I wonder if Joe might be getting a Big Storm supply from Etienne’s agent. Joking, but I do honestly wonder if Chris Simms is getting kickbacks from some of these guys agents. When Simms says this Levi Onwuzurike character has had “great production”…Since when is 7 sacks and 16 TFL in 3 years equated to great production? Maybe Simms is trying for a head injury settlement, or something.

  18. Will Says:

    I’ve only been on this sight for a few years but from what I can remember is if Joe wants us to draft them and is banging the drums for them it won’t happen and we’ll be better for it. I wasn’t around but have heard how bad you wanted Johnny Football. I do remember all the Josh Allen talk and how you weren’t big on Devin White and if I remember correctly you weren’t a fan of the Vita pick(although that one I may be wrong about) so with those things in mind I’ll say that we won’t be drafting your cruddy this year even if he’s there. Defense is where I believe we’re going with our 1st pick in the draft. Notice I didn’t say with #32 because I believe someone will want to trade into our spot and we’ll gain picks.

  19. Mitch Says:

    The average season for the past 10 championship starting running backs:

    202 Attempts 864.7 Yards 8 TD’s 4.3 YPC 29 REC 214 Rec Yards 6.91 Yards Per REC and under 2 TD’s.

    The bucs can get that productions from a rookie and Vaughn next season. Draft OLB/EDGE, CB, OL and WR/ILB this draft.

  20. TampaTown Says:


    This is not healthy. Please. Seek. Help. Now.

  21. Will Says:

    Crush not sure what a cruddy is.

  22. Swampbuc Says:

    He will be a Buc if he’s the BPA whenever the Bucs end up drafting. It’s that simple. Who is the BPA by then?

  23. Leighroy Says:

    Joe is like Matt Millen drafting WRs at this point.

    By recent JBF logic, Joe will be obliged to write an article this time in 2022 on how dare the Bucs turn over the running game to an unproven second year back who got no touches behind other RBs on the depth chart. If thats not the case, then this same argument over Vaughn is bunk.

  24. Joe in Michigan Says:

    What happened to the Joe that loved the pass rush, above all else? I love a great Bucs pass rush, too. Hopefully the Bucs will come out of this draft with a good pass rusher. Doesn’t necessarily have to be the 1st Round, but edge rusher probably should be addressed in the first 3 rounds, IMHO.

  25. DaBux Says:

    And he can pass block. If he’s there and our DL/OL options are gone, you take him at 32 or 34, wherever we end up.

  26. NYbucsfan Says:

    I could make the same point for QB. This could be Brady’s last year.

  27. Hope springs eternal Says:

    Let’s face it. Not much action going on now until the draft begins. Joe is having to stretch for topics for now. Throw this one in the waste basket Joe, along with the paper airplanes you throw out of boredom until draft day.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Has anybody seen anyone in the draft that looks like the 2nd coming of one of my alltime favorites, Mike Alstott?

  29. BillyBucFan Says:

    Asante Samuel, Moerhrig, Carlos Basham, Dickerson, Zavin Collins, etc. would be better IMO.

    I think DL is our biggest need, but with “Let’s play with Brady and win the Super Bowl ” being at an all time high, I’m not sure we don’t follow the Win Now model until he retires.

    We will still be the team to join next year for FAs, so the draft isn’t the only avenue anymore.

    And with BA basically devaluing that position more than any other, I highly doubt we go that route.

    I would honestly rather move up for Azeez Ojulari all the way to 15, before I drafted Etienne at 32.

  30. Joe Says:

    I could make the same point for QB. This could be Brady’s last year.


  31. BucsFanFromSaintsLand Says:

    LB, DT, or DE…one that they have highly ranked will probably fall because of the QBs

  32. m0j0 Says:

    Would prefer edge, dot, cb, safety, ot, etc but would not cry if we got this guy, he’s a weapon.

  33. Ben green Says:

    It’s not his last year. He still needs to stick it to bill a few more times. One superbowl with an all-star team? Two, and brady separates himself from bill forever. Three, and the argument is over about the genius of belichick. No reason they shouldn’t be in the NFC title game the next two years

  34. geno711 Says:

    I usually agree with Defense Rules but suggesting that Travis Etienne had best quarterback Trevor Lawrence means nothing when it comes to whether he is the best back or not in the draft.

    If you take the same line of logic then really one would argue that Najee Harris might actually not be that special as he had better offensive line talent and better wide receivers that had to be covered on his team than Clemson.

    On Harris – he may be the best back but he has a huge red flag right now IMO. He had a chance on two different pro days to run the 40. The last one was on March 30, 2021. He claimed it was an ankle injury he picked up late in the college season?
    It’s the second last day of March. If he isn’t healthy enough to run on March 30, 2021 that’s either a massive red flag about a very nagging lower extremity injury or he’s much slower than expected.

    Last thing Defense. Can’t reach on this weak defensive line or edge rushing class. Cornerback, outside linebacker are stronger spots. Just do not see the talent in the interior DL or Edge guys.

  35. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Whoever is the best available player. Even if it is a lineman. Say T Wirfs came out this year? And he was the pick. Would anyone here be complaining at the end of the 2021 season? NO. So if ET is the Best AP, fine, but is he even the best available RB? Is Najee? Take the best Available player, get someone that could be special. Wirfs is going to anchor the RT spot for the foreseeable future. Looks like a perennial all-pro already. So draft on Defense Best AP or Offense Best AP. Get someone awesome at their position. Continue to be the best ROSTER in the NFL. Everyone talked about the Chiefs being awesome, but man for man, the Bucs are better, period. The Super Bowl showed the world the Bucs were better. 1-2-3 DOMINATE…. GO BUCS!!!!

  36. Buczilla Says:

    As long as we don’t draft him over a similarly talented edge rusher or defensive tackle, I’d welcome him with open arms.

  37. chris L Says:

    opposite of what bobby fenton says to do!

  38. Oxycondoms Says:

    Typically licht doesnt draft rbs this high.

  39. Ash Says:


  40. bucaneror Says:

    Yeah, he seems better than some prospects that are projects and could be busts. it’s almost a 2nd round pick. Depending on what’s available. Not what I am rooting for but satisfactory.

  41. Defense Rules Says:

    Geno711 … Agree with you about ‘not reaching’, and that this isn’t a particularly strong class in terms of DLinemen. But still there’s some decent talent and you never know who’ll still be on the board at #32. And would love for us to grab 1 or even 2 OLBs high in the draft (there’s some good talent there in the upper rounds it looks like). Drafting a quality CB high wouldn’t break my heart either.

    Have watched every Bama game for many years Geno, and Harris is the real deal. Personally like power backs in the Mike Alstott & Larry Csonka mold, and especially when they’re used as part of a ‘Thunder & Lightning’ package of backs.

    Both Harris & Etienne can catch the ball, and both played with outstanding QBs IMO (that plays a big part I think in how well college RBs do as receiving backs). Never really focused on Etienne’s pass-blocking, but have watched Harris pass-protect many many times, and he’s very good. Don’t know that he’ll have the same success that Derrick Henry has had since leaving Bama, but Najee’s in the same ‘power back’ mold far as I’m concerned.

  42. Brandon Says:

    I have Harris, Dovonte Williams, and the Etienne. I like Etienne… but i just don’t see much wiggle or the power to go with that size. I also really liked Chuba Hubbard last year.