While the Arizona Cardinals could use more depth at outside linebacker and cornerback, ESPN’s Todd McShay has Arizona targeting more offensive firepower in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In McShay’s first mock draft since the end of the regular season, the Cardinals select Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne with the No. 16 overall pick.
Etienne is a home run hitter with fantastic contact balance and improving pass-catching ability. The Cardinals’ rushing offense was top 10 in yards per game in 2020, but much of that was from quarterback Kyler Murray, who accounted for more than a third of the team’s gains on the ground. Arizona’s running backs had the 19th-best yards per carry (4.16), and lead back Kenyan Drake played the season on a transition tag — and he isn’t under contract for 2021.
Drake finished the season with a team-high 955 rushing yards but averaged 4.0 yards per carry. That mark is less than both backup running back Chase Edmonds (4.6) and quarterback Kyler Murray (6.2).
Based on Etienne’s resume, the 5-foot-10, 205-pounder would add another element to Arizona’s offense.
In four seasons with the Tigers, Etienne amassed 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns on 686 carries (7.2 yards per rush). His sophomore year was his best as a Tiger, recording 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, both career marks.
Etienne would not only provide the Cardinals with an explosive runner, he could add another dimension in the team’s passing game.
As a pass catcher, Etienne posted 102 receptions for 1,155 yards and eight scores in four years at Clemson. He upped his usage as a receiver in 2020, setting career highs in catches (48) and yards (588).
In 2019, Etienne showed off his catching prowess in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. While he only ran the rock 10 times for 36 yards and a touchdown, Etienne gashed Ohio State with three catches for 98 yards and two scores.
Although Edmonds would most likely take his usual reps in the passing game, Etienne could provide another pair of hands for a group that had only one real receiving threat in DeAndre Hopkins. Following the wide receiver’s 1,407-yard season, Christian Kirk finished second on the team with 621 yards.