Rookie mini-camps are underway. It’s our first likelihood to see the celebs of tomorrow of their new jerseys. It introduces the followers to new, enjoyable characters — like Ravens’ OL Ben Cleveland and his squirrel-eating tendencies. Rookie mini-camps additionally ship some intriguing storylines to observe.
A type of got here in the present day from Jacksonville Jaguars’ HC City Meyer. In his press convention, the first-year NFL coach instructed reporters that first-round draft choice, former Clemson halfback Travis Etienne, would take “all of his minicamp reps at wide receiver.” That call induced extra head-scratching than any of his selections but — except for signing Tim Tebow after all. Why would you choose somebody within the first spherical simply to vary their place fully?
Effectively, City Meyer really tends of turning his most explosive gamers into WR-HB hybrids — Parris Warren at Utah, Percy Harvin at Florida, plus Curtis Samuel and Paris Campbell at Ohio State are only a few examples. Meyer needs his most dynamic gamers to the touch the ball as usually as doable.
To not point out, Etienne was already an exceptional receiver in school. Final yr, Etienne led all of faculty soccer in receiving yards by halfbacks (588) in addition to first down/landing receptions (29). PFF additionally awarded Etienne a receiving grade of 93.6 — third amongst school soccer RBs in 2020.
The NFL has additionally shifted away from the standard operating again. In 2020, there have been solely 10 operating backs within the NFL with greater than 200 dashing makes an attempt. Simply 10 years in the past, that quantity was 20. Halfbacks who can catch out of the backfield are inclined to have for much longer careers, so Meyer’s choice to fine-tune Etienne’s receiving abilities earlier than the beginning of the season may gain advantage the previous Clemson Tiger in the long term. The flexibility to run routes from a receiver place is turning into a a lot hotter commodity within the league. As not too long ago as 2019, operating backs had an 11-percent defense-adjusted worth over common (DVOA) when lined up within the slot, in comparison with simply 3 % when lined up out large, and -0.7 % when operating routes out of the backfield.
Backs like Christian McCaffrey (CAR), Alvin Kamara (NO), Austin Ekeler (LAC), and James White (NE) have modified the sport. The flexibility to suit by way of holes the offensive line creates is now not sufficient… except you’re a 6-foot-3, 240-pound monster named Derrick Henry. You will have to have the ability to push the ball upfield by way of the air, or on the very least, be capable of decelerate incoming pass-rushers.
The choice to draft Etienne with the twenty fifth general choose was questionable to say the least. Why draft a operating again a yr after your undrafted rookie, on an extremely team-friendly contract, ran for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns? Nevertheless, Meyer’s choice to work out Etienne at receiver wouldn’t solely give the group depth within the backfield, however would additionally give Lawrence a much-needed weapon by way of the air on a group twenty ninth within the league in yards per reception final season. It might appear questionable on the floor, however Meyer is aware of his stuff. And this transfer can solely imply good issues for Etienne sooner or later.