Seahawks swoop up Western Michigan speedster D'Wayne Eskridge in second round
He didn’t go in the first round, but Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge was still taken first in the NFL Draft — first for the Seattle Seahawks, that is.
The Seahawks took Eskridge in the second round on Friday, the 56th pick overall, and their first of the draft.
“When I saw the Seahawks (drafting at) 56, I instantly knew,” Eskridge said. “I had some type of energy that came over me. Once I saw a Washington number calling me, I stood up and was so joyful. Now it’s time to get to work.”
Eskridge was outstanding as a senior in 2020, piling up 784 receiving yards on 34 receptions with eight touchdowns in just six games. He also returned kicks with a 27.5 yards per return average while taking one back 100 yards for a touchdown.
Eskridge also had an FBS-best 213 all-purpose yards per game, while being selected as MAC Special Teams Player of the Year and first team All-MAC at both receiver and kick returner.
“This guy is a speedster,” NFL Network analyst Joel Klatt said. “He was a playmaker at Western Michigan and I like this pick for the Seahawks. More firepower on the field."
Eskridge (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) should compete for the No. 3 receiver job in Seattle's offense, and could help give the Seahawks a fast group with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
“I know about Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and then DK,” Eskridge said. “So, I can just come in and bring some more explosiveness to it. Those are all dogs that I mentioned and I’m also a dog, so I feel like I'll be able to fit in pretty good and just take it to another level, doing what I'm paid to do now.”
A running back at Bluffton (Indiana) High School, Eskridge was also a three-time state champion sprinter, twice winning the 200-meter dash and winning the 100-meter championship as a senior. He was selected as the state's "Mr. Track and Field" in 2016.
"It's crazy," Eskridge said of his journey from a small town to NFL Draft pick. "I wouldn't want it any other way. With the things I faced, it's definitely a blessing that I made it through all the obstacles I did. But it's just the beginning now. I have to keep it going for all the guys from little old Blufton to do what they want to do. All it takes is a little hard work and dedication."
At Western Michigan, Eskridge was a true freshman on the 2016 team that went 13-1 and reached the Cotton Bowl. He played both receiver and cornerback as a junior in 2019 before a shoulder injury ended his season after four games.
“There are a select few that played that in college football,” Eskridge said of being on both sides of the field. “I was trying make a name for myself on the wide receiver side and the DB side, so it worked out well for me. My senior year I came back and it was only right for me to go back to wide receiver.”
Now headed to the Seahawks, there is some question about his size, but most analysts live Eskridge’s big-play ability and work on special teams.
“He's not a great route-runner, will struggle with contested catches and lacks desired size, but he can really fly and has home run potential from anywhere on the field,” NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein said in his breakdown of Eskridge. “Eskridge is a linear route-runner with good tempo when working down the field but will need a more limited route tree featuring crossing routes, slants, posts and over routes so he can rely on his speed rather than route-running.”