In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks picked wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge in the second round. The first thing you notice about Eskridge is that he’s not a physically dominant player. He’s 5-foot-9, weighs 190 pounds, but the key thing when you turn on his tape is his blazing fast speed. He ran a 4.38 at his pro day. His yards after the catch (YAC) ability is also a big part of his identity and what he offers to the Seahawks. Looking at his advanced stats, he was a top three receiver in yards after the catch last season.
In terms of route running, I was actually pretty impressed by his ability to beat press. He has quick footwork to establish a horizontal stretch right at the line of scrimmage and he uses his hands well to swipe and keep his frame clean from contact.
In terms of negatives, Eskridge is already 24 years old and has never broken 800 receiving yards in a single season after five years at Western Michigan. Granted, last season he was on pace for a 1400+ yard season, but that’s still not great. The good news though? He had the highest yards per route run of any wide receiver in the entire 2021 NFL Draft according to Pro Football Focus at 4.94. That’s more than DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle who both went in the first round. From a route running standpoint, he needs to improve at beating off-man leverage by refining his routes and he needs to get better varying his acceleration through the route.
Was he worth a second round pick? Probably not. But the Seahawks didn’t pick until the fourth round and reportedly their trade down fell through. Regardless, it’s not as big of a reach as people are making this out to be as I had Eskridge in the third round.
Should the Seahawks have taken a different position? My argument is they should have addressed the center position in the NFL Draft. Creed Humphrey, center out of Oklahoma, also went in the second round to the Kansas City Chiefs. They could have taken him instead.
Regardless, Eskridge is a lot of fun to watch. He has enough speed and press beating ability to win off the line of scrimmage and there’s a clear and obvious fit in Shane Waldron’s offense. Running overs, running sweeps, and running posts, they all seem like a great use of his talents and he can do all of those things really well. I think if Eskridge can continue working on opening his hips and the change of pace route running, he could really surprise people.
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