NFL Draft on KAPP-KVEW: Seahawks add speedy WR D’Wayne Eskridge at 56
CLEVELAND — With the 56th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks added Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge to one of the most talented offensive units in pro football.
In his final season at Western Michigan, Eskridge tallied 811 yards from scrimmage including 768 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2020. He was honored for his efforts, being selected to the 2020 All-MAC first team as a receiver and returner.
According to Pro Football Focus, Eskridge had the third-highest passer rate in college football when targetted in single coverage last season. Essentially, he’s incredibly elusive on the field, using his speed and finesse to beat his matchup and create plays when targetted. His speed and playmaking ability will propel the Seattle Seahawks offense by adding even more speed to the wide receiver position.
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With D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett sharing the duties of a WR1 and WR2, Eskridge will have to work for his touches. He will be competing to become the third wideout in head coach Pete Carroll’s rotation following the departure of David Moore this offseason.
Listed just under 5-foot-9 and 190 lbs, Eskridge will be forced to adapt to the physicality of NFL football. There’s certainly a need for him to add muscle to compete in the pros. However, he fills a direct vacancy from this offseason and was considered one of the best options for where the Seahawks selected him.
Eskridge should have no problem finding the end zone when he creates separation from his defender. He consistently generates yards after the catch and can be used either as a big-play guy or a catch-and-run receiver. His athletic ability is going to separate him from other players in training camp, but he still has to expand his route running to solidify himself as a threat at the professional level.
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For better or for worse, Eskridge is also a bit older than many of his fellow rookies in this draft class. On one hand, that should imply a level of responsibility and veteran experience compared to other rookies. On the other hand, many skeptics would say that an older rookie wouldn’t be as likely to make it in the pros. Luckily for Eskridge, the Seattle Seahawks have the right players in front of him on the depth chart to allow for a more gradual transition to the pros.
Being an undersized wideout himself, Lockett could become a great mentor for Eskridge in the NFL. Similarly, he may be the right player to fill the aging Lockett’s role opposite Metcalf once he slows down and needs to have his snaps limited.
While Carroll probably could’ve addressed other glaring positions of need like cornerback or offensive line help, they clearly see something special in Eskridge, who fought and clawed to make it here today. Players like those tend to last because they understand what it means to make it and how hard you have to fight to stay in the NFL once they get there.
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