The Jaguars bucked the trends by drafting a running back in the first round this year, but that running back might not actually play running back.
Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said today that Etienne is working at wide receiver at the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp. Meyer reasoned that Etienne is going to get a lot of passes thrown his way no matter where he lines up, and the Jaguars want to give Etienne all the experience he can get running pass routes.
“Worst case scenario you have a running back that’s elite with receiver skills,” Meyer said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Etienne is going to prove to be elite in the NFL, either as a runner or a receiver. And it’s valid to ask why the Jaguars didn’t just draft a wide receiver if they wanted a wide receiver, instead of drafting a running back and playing him at wide receiver. (Meyer has admitted the player he really wanted to draft was wide receiver Kadarius Toney, whom the Giants selected.)
But the Jaguars have an abundance of running backs, with last year’s impressive undrafted rookie James Robinson and this year’s free agent signing Carlos Hyde. Etienne’s best bet for contributing as a rookie may be to play wide receiver.