Steelers draft: Did Travis Etienne surpass Najee Harris as most likely pick at 24?
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers sent the house to Clemson’s Pro Day. Is Travis Etienne now more likely to be Pittsburgh’s pick than Najee Harris?
Clemson held their 2021 Pro Day on Friday, and it wasn’t surprising to see that the Steelers had some representatives on hand. However, it’s certainly worth noting who was there. While Pittsburgh doesn’t send their brass to every school, they certainly did so to Clemson this week, and it was reported that Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada were all in attendance. One player they clearly expressed interest in was running back, Travis Etienne.
While some fans might take this with a grain of salt, it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh typically doesn’t hide their interests when it comes to the NFL Draft, and having their ‘big three’ on hand is a definite sign that they are interested in a few players early in the draft – primarily on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, Canada and Tomlin could both be seen talking to with Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney, for quite some time:
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Etienne also had a Zoom meeting with Canada and Tomlin and he thinks he would be a terrific fit in Pittsburgh’s offense. With the attention Etienne has been given by the Steelers coaching staff, there’s no doubt he will be in serious consideration with the 24th pick in April.
Did Travis Etienne just become more likely than Najee Harris for Steelers?
Though we don’t know who is going to be in attendance for Alabama’s Pro Day on March 23rd, it’s hard to imagine that they send more representatives than we saw at Clemson on Friday, and anything less than Tomlin, Colbert, and Canada on hand will be telling. While it’s entirely possible that all three will be there, I’d have to believe that Travis Etienne has surpassed Najee Harris for the most likely pick at 24.
Harris is a player that I think the Steelers are going to like, but he goes against many of their draft trends – including drafting older players in the first (Harris turned 23 after the college season). Etienne, on the other hand, is a year younger without so much wear and tear. He’s also the faster player and better overall athlete of the two and seems perfectly suited for Matt Canada’s new-look offense.
It also didn’t hurt that Etienne showed up at his Pro Day at 215 pounds, according to The Athletic, after reportedly playing at just 199 pounds this past season. This added weight comes dangerously close to checking yet another box the Steelers typically look for at the position, and there is much more reason to believe that Pittsburgh could view him as an every-down ‘feature’ back at the next level.
With the Steelers appearing to salivate over Clemson running back, Travis Etienne, it will be interesting to see if they express as much interest in Najee Harris during his Pro Day less than two weeks from now. As of now, I’d say that Etienne holds the edge to be Pittsburgh’s most likely first-round pick.