WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan (5’9”, 190)

Background:

Appeared in a reserve capacity as a freshman, catching seventeen passes. Stepped into a starting role the following year and went 30-506-3 (16.9), then saw his production expand to 38-776-3 (20.4) as a junior. Ended up breaking his collarbone four games into his senior year, which led to a medical redshirt; had been playing both receiver and cornerback at that point. Became a full-time receiver again last year, returning kicks as well; line in the passing game was 34-784-8 (23.1).

Positives:

Takes snaps both inside and outside. Has legitimate game-breaking speed; averaged over twenty yards per reception in each of the past two seasons in which he was healthy, and it shows on the field. Can take the top off of a defense or turn a short pass into a huge gain. Eats up cushions in a hurry against off-coverage, which he faced a lot at the college level; importantly, was also able to release with his feet versus press looks, with simple, efficient footwork. Also flashes a swim move to slip by opponents sitting in zone. Cushions he gets open up opportunities for him to run hitches and break over the middle of the field on slants/posts. When he needs to, shows attention to detail and the ability to sink his hips into the stem to create separation for timing-based throws. Able to track and adjust to passes over his shoulder, with good body control. A threat on jet sweeps. Flashes the ability to get physical and drive his legs as a blocker. Should be able to provide immediate value as a kick returner.

Negatives:

Just turned twenty-four years old, so he’s two or three years older than your typical prospect. Was never really a volume receiver in college, relying on big plays for most of his production. On the small side for a pro receiver, particularly one who lines up on the boundaries. Route tree is pretty simple, consisting primarily of go routes, posts, hitches, and screens. Might struggle to release at the line of scrimmage against physical cornerbacks. Development may have been stunted a little bit because of how much opposing defenses respect his speed; tends to round off his routes at the stem because he’s working against off coverages with generous cushions. Doesn’t offer the biggest catch radius or most reliable hands. Would like to see more consistent effort to engage as a stalk blocker; too many plays in which he passes up opportunities to get physical with opposing cornerbacks.

Summary:

A true burner who can threaten defenses downfield, break big gains off of short throws, and contribute in the kicking game, but who is undersized, overaged, and still has to diversify his route tree. Draft stock is difficult to evaluate at this point, but given how important having a legitimate deep threat is to offensive spacing, it would be surprising if he went somewhere on the second day.

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