NFL

Derrick Henry says RBs Najee Harris, Travis Etienne should both be first-round picks

Fresh off becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000-plus yards, Derrick Henry believes his position deserves more respect.

As such, the bruising rusher sees two potential first-round running backs in the 2021 draft: fellow Alabama product Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne.

Owning unique skillsets, Harris and Etienne are different types of backs. Depending on what clubs are looking for could determine how high each rookie is selected. Harris is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound punisher, while Etienne’s dual-threat ability could be ideal for the modern offense.

Henry views both dynamic rookies as first-round candidates.

“(Najee) definitely deserves to be a first-round pick, and hopefully he gets the opportunity,” Henry said of Harris, via the Titans’ official team website. “The things he did this year, it was just unbelievable. He’s great at running the ball, great at catching the ball. He is the full package. It’s what you want from a guy coming in and being a day one starter at the running back position.”

“I think Travis Etienne is definitely well deserving of going in the first round,” added Henry. “I know that they try to devalue us backs and say that running backs, you can get a running back in the second round. But Najee and Etienne deserve to go in the first round — they have earned it. You have seen it week in and week out, what they did this year, the type of players they are, it shows on film.”

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranked Etienne as his No. 17 overall player and Harris No. 22 in his top-50 draft prospects list. In his initial mock draft, Jeremiah has Etienne going with the 23rd pick to the New York Jets, while Harris isn’t off the board.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks had both RBs going in the first round of his Mock Draft 1.0, with Harris going No. 18 to Miami and Etienne going No. 23 to N.Y.

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