Clemson’s Travis Etienne could be the “home run” hitting RB the Bills are looking for


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)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Over the past two years, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has drafted a running back in the third round and he isn’t afraid to take another one this time around, maybe even higher with their 30th overall pick.

“I mean we feel very comfortable with the guys we have so I’m not going in to this draft saying man we’ve gotta find us a back here in the top few rounds or anything like that but there are some good players in here and if he’s the best guy on our board we wouldn’t hesitate to take him,” Beane said on his pre-draft zoom call last week.

In 2019, the Bills drafted Devin Singletary then in 2020 took Zack Moss, both in the third-round. With how their skill sets compliment each other, this duo was expected to be that thunder and lightning, 1-2 punch in the Bills backfield.

But Buffalo finished 20th in rushing last season and while it’s not fair to just blame the backs, it’s still an area they could use a boost in. While the Bills passing game exploded last year ranked third to end the year, this offense needs some type of consistent running game in order to avoid being a one-dimensional offense. In order to do that, the Bills need to add the type of running back that opposing defenses need to worry about because right now they don’t have any.

Enter Clemson’s Travis Etienne.

Even though it’s understandable why people might cringe at the idea of the Bills taking a running back in the first round, Etienne has the potential to come in from day one and make an immediate impact and add something to this position the Bills don’t have right now, which is what Beane stressed is needed for him to take a back.

“What is his skill set have in comparison to what we have on the roster, is this player gonna do something, you know I don’t think either one of our backs are home run hitters,” Beane explained.

But Etienne is.

“So is there an elite trait that this guy has and says man he’s got something we don’t have. That’s probably the conversation versus OK are we gonna take the same type of back as Devin or are we gonna take the same type of back as Zack because even those two guys have different skill sets,” Beane said.

“So I think those are the conversations you have, what does this player bring to you that you don’t already have on the roster that you’re going man if we add that to the group that’s gonna help our overall offense.”

The phrase “home run hitter” is what makes me think of Etienne. He became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher, has been described as a “tackle breaking machine” with his ability to break tackles and extend the play after contact and showed his ability to make an even bigger impact in the passing game.

Beane always emphasizes taking the best player available and if the Bills stay at 30 and Etienne is there, I don’t see how he can pass up this kind of dynamic play maker.

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