Travis Etienne

Travis Etienne headlines rookies who disappointed in 2021 preseason debut

Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason is underway, giving several rookies an opportunity to rinse the sour smell of a disappointing debut to the summer schedule.

Pro Football Focus recently ranked the most disappointing rookie performances from the first week of the preseason, and it was Jaguars running back Travis Etienne who led the list.

The most disappointing thing about Etienne’s debut was the lack of any evidence of this dynamic, hybrid playmaker that had been notably hyped up in OTAs,” PFF’s Sam Monson wrote. “His role was being described in the same vein as the way Urban Meyer deployed Curtis Samuel at Ohio State or Percy Harvin at Florida.”

Etienne was our RB2 entering the 2021 NFL draft but landing in Jacksonville has his short-term outlook in doubt. With James Robinson locked in as the early-down runner and WR Laviska Shenault profiling more as the gadget weapon in Meyer’s system, Etienne’s fit seems somewhat odd.

“We essentially saw a third-down back on Etienne’s 13 snaps of action,” Monson continued. “Twelve of his 13 snaps were passing plays, with all but two being obvious passing situations. He was split out wide three times, but they were all empty sets where the Jaguars had five receivers and the quarterback alone in the backfield.”

Based simply on talent, Etienne is the best running back on the Jaguars’ roster. But talent alone isn’t what makes guys enjoy successful rookie years — or even careers. More often than not, players thrive as a result of fit; their talent is used properly in an offense/defense that plays to their strengths.

It doesn’t feel like the Etienne-Jaguars fit is lining up all that well right now. That said, Meyer is one of the smartest offensive football coaches in the nation who will find a way to put his best players in a position to win. It may just take more time to get Etienne there.

For PFF’s complete list of disappointing rookie performances, click here.

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL