Bills Rumors: Clemson's Travis Etienne Linked to Bills, Compared to Alvin Kamara

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 file photo, Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) runs for a touchdown during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Charlotte, N.C. Brandon Beane didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of adding a running back in the first two rounds, with Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Alabama’s Najee Harris rated as the top prospects.(AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

The Buffalo Bills could be looking to upgrade at running back when they select with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday. And the player they might be targeting is Travis Etienne.

The MMQB's Albert Breer broke down the team's potential thinking ahead of the selection:

"A second-tier corner probably would make the most sense, but Clemson's Travis Etienne was a name raised to me for Buffalo. And the comp I've gotten most for him is Alvin Kamara—a player you have to have a plan for, but one who can be incredibly difficult for defenses to handle. Adding Etienne to that skill group, as an underneath weapon with the Bills' ability to go downfield, would be pretty tantalizing."

ESPN's Todd McShay was hearing similar buzz surrounding the Bills:

"One thing I've heard from a lot of people is Clemson's Travis Etienne has become the most coveted running back in the class—ahead of Najee Harris—because of the different element he brings with his explosive home run ability. And a GM whom I spoke with said he heard Buffalo might be tempted to move up from No. 30 into the early 20s to land Etienne."

Etienne, 22, had a fantastic career for Clemson, rushing for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns. For his career, he averaged an incredible 7.2 yards per carry. The Louisiana native added 102 receptions, 1,155 yards and another eight scores. 

The NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah believes he's the 20th-best prospect in this year's draft, calling him a "compact, muscled-up running back with outstanding burst and balance" who "doesn't have elite vision or wiggle, but his speed is real and it's spectacular when given a runway."

That ability to make plays in space or turn short runs into long touchdowns makes him appealing for teams in need of another playmaker on offense. 

The Bills are such a team. Etienne would be an upgrade over the current backfield pair of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, who combined to rush for 1,168 yards and six touchdowns last year. Those are not horrible numbers, but Etienne would give them a more dynamic option. 

Peter King of Pro Football Talk agrees, projecting them to take Etienne with the No. 30 pick:

"Etienne would be a great puzzle piece in an offense that craves speed in the backfield. Etienne doesn't have the speed of some of the fleet backs or wideouts who run Jet sweeps (he's a 4.44 guy), but the book on him is he cuts and fakes at top speed, which can make up for the fact that he has good but not transcendent speed."

It's possible that Etienne won't drop to No. 30. But if he does, all indications seem to point to Buffalo taking him off the board without a second thought.