The 2021 NFL draft features many stud running backs. The three running backs getting much of the attention are Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Alabama’s Najee Harris, and Ohio State’s Trey Sermon. Which of these three running backs should be off the board first? These are three solid choices for a team looking to invigorate its running game.
Etienne may be the top running back on some rankings but he is the best of the class? Etienne has breakaway speed, excellent acceleration, top-notch ball-carrying vision, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara like agility, and some ability to break tackles. He is a touchdown threat every time he carries the ball and looks like the no-brainer first-round selection Does he sound like the perfect running back who should be the first off of the board? He can be an extra receiving option too and could be a catalyst in the passing, especially on screen passes. Etienne has the skill set of a Pro Bowl running back without question. The only issue is his size. Although many scouts already rant and rave about his low center of gravity, he is a smaller back and could have a tough time transitioning to the NFL level without an excellent offensive line. He needs to work on pass blocking as well.
Harris looks like he can start on any team and will likely experience success right away. Although Harris isn’t as fast as Etienne, he has the size to fight for yards rather easily. Harris has more power to break through tackles than Etienne and he is very agile. He moves with cat-like quickness but doesn’t have the game-changing speed that Etienne possesses. He is still quick and has good acceleration. He looks like the most complete running back of the draft class. He won’t necessarily need a stellar offensive line to succeed at the NFL level but it would be a bonus.
Sermon broke Eddie George’s single-game record for the most running yards in a single game in Ohio State’s history. He rushed for 331 yards on 29 carries in the 2020 Big Ten Championship against Northwestern. George previously set the record against Illinois in 1995 with 314 rushing yards. Sermon has the power to break tackles with relative ease and will fit in perfectly in a power-run system. He has good ball-carrying vision too. He has good speed and acceleration but his best asset is his strength. He identifies running lanes quickly and makes decisions on where to run in the blink of an eye.
Najee Harris has the potential to change the fortune for a team that desperately needs to improve their running game. He’ll fit in perfectly with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Atlanta Falcons needed to get more out of Todd Gurley so they may take a running back early or wait until the second round to get a steal. Etienne will remain on the board for the early second round and the Falcons won’t waste time. The Falcons will get a second-round steal with the selection of Etienne. Trey Sermon made a name for himself in 2020 but he doesn’t quite get the level of attention that Etienne and Harris receive. Sermon will be on the board for round three and the Houston Texans need a running back. Sermon can really aid the Texans offense.
Najee Harris- First round-24th overall pick- Pittsburgh Steelers
Travis Etienne- Second round- 35th overall pick- Atlanta Falcons
Trey Sermon- Third round- 67th overall pick- Houston Texans