Jaguars select Clemson RB Travis Etienne with 25th overall pick

John Reid
Florida Times-Union
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Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) runs for a touchdown during the first half of the ACC Championship against Notre Dame. The Jaguars drafted Etienne at No. 25 Thursday night, reuniting him with quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Jaguars coach Urban Meyer wants to surround quarterback Trevor Lawrence with as many offensive weapons as possible this upcoming season.

Meyer made sure to give Lawrence one he's familiar with after drafting his former Clemson teammate, running back Travis Etienne, with the 25th overall pick in the first round Thursday night.

Etienne is the first running back selected in the first round by the Jaguars since 2017 when they selected Leonard Fournette fourth overall. It's also the first time the Jaguars have selected two players from the same school in the first round with Lawrence going as the No. 1 overall pick.

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''After evaluating the offense of Jacksonville last year, just the lack of big play and I've always had a strong belief in speed,'' Meyer said. ''This is a multi-dimensional back that we’ve kind of, from day one, I know Coach [Darrell] Bevell and [Coach] Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] and I all feel that the idea of offense is to create match-up nightmares. [He’s a] high-end character guy that has elite speed, that—really, really exciting.''

Meyer plans to utilize Etienne as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield and take advantage of his explosiveness to break long runs that can cause matchup problems for opposing defenses.

In four seasons at Clemson, Etienne rushed for 4,952 yards and scored 70 touchdowns. Etienne rushed for 914 yards and scored 14 touchdowns and caught 48 passes for 588 yards, averaging 12.8 yards per catch.

Since taking the Jaguars coaching job in January, Meyer has expressed a need for speed and adding more playmakers. Still, most of the mock drafts had the Jaguars using the 25th pick to address defensive needs at safety or the defensive line. But those are needs the Jaguars are likely to address in Day 2 or Day 3.

Meyer said their first four picks in the draft need to be instant impact players.   

The Jaguars already have running back James Robinson, who as an undrafted rookie last season rushed for 1,070 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season. The Jaguars also signed veteran running back Carlos Hyde in free agency. 

''I see Carlos and James the 1-2, downhill, powerful running backs,'' Meyer said. ''And I see Travis—there are times where we could be in two-backs and Travis is a guy that goes out. Or we’re still playing with it, but he’s certainly a third-down back and he’s a guy that’s a match-up issue for the defense.

''Our goal is to be at the top fourth of every position and I think we solidified that with James, Carlos and Travis. So, we’re good at running back.” 

Knowing that Lawrence was the presumptive No. 1 overall for months and would end up in Jacksonville, Etienne said he had hoped to join him with the Jaguars.  

''I felt it was the best pick they could have made,'' Etienne said. ''I did have it in the back of my mind that I might have a chance to reunite with Trev. I'm just happy and excited and blessed. I'm ready to get to work with Trev and just being his teammate for three years, we have built that camaraderie. I don't have to work on getting to know someone else, I know Trevor. It's a great feeling, he's a hard worker and I'm a hard worker and we have the same common goal to have great things happen on that field.'' 

Jaguars general manager said they had Etienne on their draft board that they hoped would be available when they select. It turned out exactly like they hoped after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris instead of Etienne with the 24th overall pick.

"Travis is someone we had penciled in at 25 and we’re hoping he would get to us,'' general manager Trent Baalke said. ''We had several others as well, but you always have a plan A, plan B, plan C, 1,2,3, however you want to rate it. We feel very good about how we ended up today.”

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