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Travis Etienne

Running back looks like best of Jacksonville backs

Travis Etienne looks like one of the winners of the June minicamps. Heading into training camp, it’s clear he’s the favorite to be the most productive of the Jacksonville running backs. He’s more of a No. 1 running back rather than a sleeper who has any chance of making it into the later rounds.

Etienne missed all of his rookie season with his a Lisfranc foot injury, but he looks 100 percent healthy now. He was operating with no restrictions at their just-completed team workouts. That included him lining up not only as a running back but splitting out wide as a receiver and even fielding punts. He’s going to have a significant role.

A few months back, you might have seen somebody selecting James Robinson before Etienne in some drafts, but that’s not happening now. Robinson is trying to come back from a torn Achilles, and if and when he’ll get back to something close to 100 percent. In a post minicamp wrap-up put together by The Florida Times-Union, beat writer John Reid in one answer says it’s unlikely Robinson will be ready for the start of training camp but in another says it’s unclear if Robinson will be ready for the start of camp. Those seem like overly optimistic answers to me (I wouldn’t be surprised if Robinson opens the year on the PUP list and doesn’t get back to anything close to 100 percent in the 2022 season).

The Jaguars selected Snoop Conner in the fifth round, and the Reid article confirms that he could be a factor in this backfield. He’s a bigger, more physical runner. He could be their main goal-line runner (though this isn’t likely to be a team that’s scoring many 1- and 2-yard touchdowns).

With this backfield, keep in mind that Doug Pederson is coaching. When he was with the Eagles, they rotated their backs. In his five seasons there, no running back ever ran for 900 yards. And only one ranked higher than 23rd in total production among running backs for a season (using PPR scoring).

For now, Etienne to me looks like a possibility about 20 running backs into a draft. He’s a good pass catcher, and that will help him along in PPR formats. Conner and Robinson, I think, look like late-round flyer type guys (I don’t expect to wind up with either in the leagues I’m in).

DOUG PEDERSON'S RUNNING BACKS
YearPlayerRunRecTotalTDPPRRk
2019Miles Sanders8185091,3276220.715
2020Miles Sanders8671971,0646174.423
2016Darren Sproles4384278654162.524
2016Ryan Mathews6611157769148.630
2018Wendell Smallwood3642305945119.442
2019Jordan Howard525695947111.444
2017LeGarrette Blount766508163109.645
2019Boston Scott245204449598.949
2020Boston Scott374212586295.651
2017Corey Clement321123444692.451
2018Josh Adams51158569383.961
2018Corey Clement259192451281.162
2018Darren Sproles120160280361.076
2016Wendell Smallwood31255367254.772
2017Wendell Smallwood174103277146.780
2018Jay Ajayi18420204345.483
2016Kenjon Barner12942171234.189
2017Kenjon Barner5756113122.396
2020Corey Clement7525100121.0106
2017Darren Sproles6173134020.4101
2019Darren Sproles662490017.0103
2016Byron Marshall641074010.4124
2016Terrell Watson28533110.3126
2019Jay Ajayi3003003.0135
2020Jason Huntley1901902.9146

—Ian Allan

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