There is no argument that Etienne would fit well in the Cards’ backfield, a playmaker with significant speed. He’s not a huge back, but NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted that Etienne’s power is his speed. Certainly, Etienne would fit in the locker room, with former Clemson teammate Isaiah Simmons and another ex-Tiger in DeAndre Hopkins.
But will the Cardinals and General Manager Steve Keim – who was one of the three allowed from the organization who attended Clemson’s pro day – grade Etienne highly enough? And would it offset the desire to draft, say, a much-needed cornerback at 16?
Jeremiah is of the group that is OK with taking a running back in the first round. But it comes with caveats.
“I think re-signing them (to a second contract) is a whole different conversation,” Jeremiah said. “Run them until the wheels fall off on that first contract and off you go. It makes more sense to me to take one of these guys (in the first round) when you’re ready to win. The carries you have, if you say it’s going to be a five-year window when we’re going to get the most out of this guy and move on, I don’t want to waste those carries on a bad football team.
“Taking a running back in the top five doesn’t make a lot of sense because by the time you’re good, you’ll have already wasted all the good mileage on the back. If you’ve got a team that can be a playoff-caliber team, and you want to drop in a big-time back (in the first round), I don’t have any problem with it at all. Arizona, 8-8 and right on the doorstep of being a playoff team, if he’s your highest-rated guy and you think he’s the best football player, I’d have no problem at all with them taking him.”
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said, if Drake leaves, incumbent Chase Edmonds has shown he could be the Cards’ lead back. Edmonds will be a part of the equation, but the Cards need someone else to take significant snaps.
Etienne said he’s worth a first-round pick because “I feel like I possess a lot of things that are God-given that most guys don’t possess.”
Some team will get the chance to put that to use. Etienne may love the idea of the Cardinals being that place, but he understands that’s not how it often plays out.
“Wherever I get drafted,” Etienne said, “I’m going to be grateful and prepared to give it all for my team.”