The Seattle Seahawks passing game has looked anemic as one might expect following the departure of Russell Wilson, but one of the storylines within the offensive struggles is the absence of second-year receiver Dee Eskridge.
Seattle’s top draft pick from 2021 only played five snaps in the team’s win over the Denver Broncos on opening night, and wasn’t even out there on special teams. Against the San Francisco 49ers, he closed out a tepid display of football by catching a pass at the line of scrimmage and running for six garbage time yards. I don’t have the snap count data as of this writing but I know that he wasn’t getting much action on the field.
Eskridge’s career numbers to date are 12 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. For someone who returned kicks in his final year at Western Michigan and was even getting some return duties in preseason against the Dallas Cowboys, he’s not even out there for that. So in effect, Eskridge is just someone occupying a roster spot.
In fairness to Dee, he’s lost quite a bit of time due to training camp injuries in both 2021 and 2022, as well as a scary concussion he suffered in the first game of his career against the Indianapolis Colts. You can’t contribute when you’re hardly on the field.
But even when he has played his route tree looks limited to jet sweeps, quick throws at the line, and not a whole lot else. More than half of his targets have been marked as short throws in the official NFL play-by-play data, and only one catch has been longer than 10 air yards down the field.
When stacking up Eskridge’s numbers against the rest of the 2021 class (not counting UDFAs), he’s been wildly ineffective. At a guess, Eskridge is behind on the playbook — stop me if you’ve heard that before about a Seahawks draft pick — he’s certainly behind Marquise Goodwin on the depth chart and at best a WR4.
Marquise Goodwin played 28 snaps against Denver and Dee Eskridge just 5. I asked Seattle OC Shane Waldron today if that makes it clear that Goodwin is for now the number 3 WR behind Metcalf and Lockett and here's what he said: pic.twitter.com/hgx58FolsV— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) September 16, 2022
I suppose we still could and should wait to see Eskridge develop with more time (and maybe a new quarterback next year), but he’s going to be 26 in 2023 and has shown hardly anything worth getting excited about even when Wilson was the quarterback. The idea of taking a 24-year-old rookie that early in a draft at the very least implies that said player should be NFL ready and not need a long adjustment period. It does not look like that applies to Dee.
This is the company Eskridge is keeping alongside other Round 1-3 wide receivers taken since 2012 who caught fewer than 12 passes as a rookie.
Mike Williams is the only receiver who has managed to escape the “bust” designation. Everyone else either does not appear to have a long-term NFL future or is currently out of the league, including former Seahawks receiver Amara Darboh.
I won’t push back if you still believe in Eskridge’s potential and that this is the fault of the coaches or the quarterback play or his own health. Ultimately it’s very likely that the Seahawks whiffed on this pick, and given the lack of draft capital they had in 2021 they really couldn’t afford such a miss.