5 running backs the Panthers could target in the 2021 NFL Draft

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) Javonte Williams
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) Javonte Williams /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Travis Etienne /

Travis Etienne – Clemson

Ranked the top running back in the 2021 NFL Draft class by many outlets, including Pro Football Focus, Travis Etienne was a force in college. During his four years as a Clemson Tiger, he ran for almost 5,000 yards and 70 touchdowns. Proving to be a formidable weapon for Trevor Lawrence, he also caught 102 passes for 1,155 yards and eight scores.

There’s no doubt the Clemson star’s best years were 2018 and 2019, where he rushed for over 1,600 yards and totaled over 20 combined touchdowns in both campaigns. Etienne has earned the right to be the consensus top running back on the board, but some draft analysts are concerned about the amount of mileage already on his body.

Etienne had more rushing attempts in college than anyone else on this list and getting selected by a team with an established running back like the Carolina Panthers may mean a longer pro career. However, analysts project the Clemson product will be a late first-round pick.

With Christian McCaffrey on the roster and a healthy amount of talented backs in this draft, selecting Etienne is realistically out of the picture for Carolina with so many other needs that need addressing first.

A few of Etienne’s draft comparisons include Dalvin Cook, Marshawn Lynch, DeMarco Murray, Joseph Addai, and former Panthers Pro-Bowler DeAngelo Williams.