Rookie Spotlight: D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Height: 5’9 1/8″
Arm: 30 1/8″
40 yard dash: 4.44
NFL Comparison: Jalen Reagor, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders
– elite speed
– decisive runner
– quick cuts
– uses all of his range
– extremely versatile
– excellent kick-returner
– injury history
– already one year older than Ceedee Lamb
– switched to defense then back to offense in college
– goes down fairly easily
College Production Score: .27
2020 Market Share Team Receptions: 21%
2020 Market Share Team Receiving Yards: 32%
2020 Market Share Team Receiving TDs: 29%
Scouting Notes: The first thing one notices about Eskridge is his blazing speed. Rumored to run in the 4.35 range, he always looks like the fastest guy on the field, in part because he reaches top speed so quickly. If he makes it into the second level, he’s usually not going to be caught. A smooth and decisive runner, Eskridge doesn’t do a lot of dancing. He’s usually one cut and out, but that’s generally all he needs. You can tell the elusiveness is present even if he doesn’t use it all the time, by his shifty first move that often breaks the defender’s ankles and frees Eskridge up to make his way downfield. Eskridge literally played all over the field at W. Michigan, coming in as running back before turning into a premier kick returner/receiver and also playing cornerback from time to time. In fact, he led the nation in all-purpose yards per game in 2020 (213 yards).
D’Wayne Eskridge just plays at a different speed than these dudes. pic.twitter.com/NXAecByP0I
— RosterWatch (@RosterWatch) January 23, 2021
That experience on defense has undoubtedly given him a leg up on the offensive side of the ball, as he seems one step ahead of the defender most of the time. Eskridge isn’t a big guy and doesn’t have long arms, but he uses all of his catch radius to his advantage, and he usually high points the ball away from the defender. A hard worker and continual grinder, Eskridge takes his tenacity to his blocking as well, though he can sometimes be haphazard with his body – His 2019 season was shortened by a broken collarbone. Though he’ll be old for a rookie(24), Eskridge is still faster and more agile than most guys a couple years younger than, and I think his best days are ahead. He was one of the best receivers at the 2021 Senior Bowl, consistently getting open and making highlight-reel catches stemming from ankle-breaking releases off the line.
Fantasy Outlook: A solid Senior Bowl showing and what I can only expect will be a blistering 40 time should have Eskridge on teams’ radars early in the draft process. The fact that W. Michigan has turned out players like Greg Jennings and Corey Davis also helps his cause. Eskridge projects to be a no.2 WR/kick returner in the mode of Emmanuel Sanders and could have a major impact in fantasy if he lands on the right team. I could see him thriving somewhere like Miami or perhaps in the slot in Minnesota. In any case, Eskridge’s speed and willingness to do anything asked of him should get him on the field early and often in the NFL. He’s an upside 3rd WR pick in dynasty right now.