The Urban Meyer experiment continues to produce interesting results in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars first-year coach told reporters on Saturday that Travis Etienne – the second running back off the board and No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft – will take all of his rookie reps at the minicamp as a catcher.
From Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
#Jaguars Coach Urban Meyer told reporters RB Travis Etienne in the first round would take all of their minicamp reps to WR. “Worst case scenario you’ve got an elite running back with catcher skills,” Meyer said. Similar, it seems, to Le’Veon Bell in his prime.
– Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 15, 2021
MORE: 2021 NFL Draft Notes, Best (Dolphins) To Worst (Raiders)
It’s definitely a way to get your recruit into the attack.
While it’s not uncommon for players to switch positions once they reach the NFL, it seems a bit odd that this is happening with Etienne, given his track record of success as a running back. To be fair, he consistently demonstrated excellent passing catching ability at Clemson, totaling 102 receptions for 1,155 yards (11.3 yards per catch) and eight receiving touchdowns.
In addition, Etienne was among the best passers in college football for the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Focus. He caught 48 passes for 588 yards – the two highs of a season – and two touchdowns. That could work in his favor with the Jaguars, as former Clemson star and overall No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence will still be his Jacksonville quarterback.
Travis Etienne will take all of his mini-camp representatives to WR, by @RapSheet
Etienne receiving ranks among the RBs of the BFC last season:
🔸90.9 acceptance note (1st)
🔸588 yards on reception (1st)
🔸29 1st down / TD receptions (1st) pic.twitter.com/YzL6SRMJZD
– PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 15, 2021
That said, Etienne’s capture ability makes him a double threat. as a ball carrier; this does not guarantee a successful transition to a full time wide receiver. It’s unclear if Meyer considered changing Stephen’s position (5-10, 215 pounds) when he drafted him, but that could have been the case given that James Robinson (1,070 yards, seven TDs in 2020) was also effective as an undrafted rookie.
One thing you can say about the move: it gets people talking. Add to the mix the coaching decisions of Tim Tebow and Meyer, and the Jaguars are one of the most interesting teams of the 2021 NFL offseason.