Travis Etienne, Amari Rodgers Show Off Elite Skills at Clemson Pro Day

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) runs for a touchdown during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Clemson football stars Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers took center stage Thursday at the school's pro day.

Trevor Lawrence is obviously the crown jewel of the 2021 draft class, but the quarterback was unable to participate in the event as he recovers from surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Because he's the consensus No. 1 player on the board, he didn't stand to gain much anyway.

Etienne and Rodgers, on the other hand, could potentially improve their stock with their performances. In B/R's Big Board 1.0 released on March 2, Etienne ranks No. 59 overall and is the fourth-best running back. Rodgers sits 54th overall and 11th among wide receivers.

Etienne showcased his speed, running an unofficial 4.40-second 40-yard dash:

ACC Network @accnetwork

4.40 unofficial 40-yard dash for Travis Etienne ⚡️ @ClemsonFB 𝐏𝐫𝐨 𝐃𝐚𝐲 https://t.co/MRNi2Ckcca

Rodgers was only fractionally slower at 4.44 seconds:

Amari Rodgers3️⃣ @arodgers_3

Break away speed ✅ https://t.co/1eEF697B6Q

Etienne had a prolific career at Clemson. He ran for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns while catching 102 passes for 1,155 yards and eight scores, and he was the ACC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Lawrence's presence likely meant the Louisiana native didn't get the credit he might've gotten in another offense.

Etienne demonstrated Thursday he has the physical tools to be an impact player the next level, and his speed was all the more impressive considering he weighed 215 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than Clemson listed him. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah compared him to two-time All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles:

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

This was my comparison for Etienne after studying him on tape. https://t.co/sM9YzxM01x

Bucky Brooks of NFL Network thought Etienne succeeded in showing himself to be a capable receiver during drills:

"Does he have the ability to catch the ball and run routes, maybe like a Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara type? He's already a three-down running back, but how special could he be in the passing game? When you watched him today, he caught the ball pretty well. A little more natural than I thought he looked on tape. I think he comes away with a pretty good workout. He helped himself."

Naturally, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney provided a strong endorsement as well:

ACC Network @accnetwork

"Every time he touches the ball you hold your breath." @ClemsonFB HC Dabo Swinney on the ACC’s all-time leading rusher, @swaggy_t1 🐅 https://t.co/bUcszIIYI7

Rodgers, meanwhile, was the team's leading receiver in 2020 with Justyn Ross out for the year. He had 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.

During his pro day, versatility was one theme for the 5'10" pass-catcher, who attempted to demonstrate his suitability in a variety of roles:

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers says in his pro day zoom that he seems himself as a Randall Cobb-type player, used in jet sweeps and returns. Somewhere Matt Canada's ears perked up.

Grace Raynor @gmraynor

Amari Rodgers says he "definitely" plans on contributing on special teams. Says he caught some punts for scouts after the workout.

Nick Baumgardner and Chris Burke of The Athletic thought Rodgers helped himself in a big way:

"More than numbers, though, he put his full skill set on display by taking reps in the backfield as a running back, catching punts and running routes as a receiver. He's a multi-tool prospect who could be dangerous in the right system. Rodgers' stock climbed after a great Senior Bowl, and he also had an impressive workout at the House of Athlete scouting combine last week (see details below from March 7). So his stock may be on the rise again."

The scouting process became more difficult for NFL personnel with the cancellation of the NFL Scouting Combine, and incoming draftees lost the opportunity to prove themselves in Indianapolis like they normally would.

Still, Etienne and Rodgers made a strong account for themselves during Clemson's pro day, and their workouts might help them climb up teams' draft boards.