If pre-draft attention and meetings are any indications, the New England Patriots seem to love Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
According to NBC Sports’ Phil Perry, the Patriots have met with Eskridge “multiple times.” He has also seemingly connected with special teams coach Cam Achord.
D’Wayne Eskridge has met with the Patriots multiple times and has gotten well-acquainted with special teams coach Cam Achord.
Explosive return option…
Experience covering kicks…
Spent a year playing corner…
Sound like a Patriot? 🤔 https://t.co/GimDMazNYo
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) April 7, 2021
Perry asks, “sound like a Patriot?”
Louis Riddick Co-Signs Perry’s Concept
Former NFL player and current ESPN analyst Louis Reddick agreed with Perry’s assessment.
Sure does …
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 7, 2021
Riddick has always kept an eye on the Patriots’ offseason moves. He played three seasons with the Cleveland Browns from 1993-95 when Bill Belichick was the head coach.
Riddick made a living as a special team standout. He knows a thing or two about the value of the many roles in that phase of the game. Riddick also knows how near and dear special teamers are to Belichick.
If Riddick sees the potential connection and Perry and the team have already met with Eskridge several times, there would seemingly be some legitimacy to the Patriots’ reported interest.
D’Wayne Eskridge’s Versatility and Speed are His Best Traits
Eskridge’s versatility undoubtedly speaks to the Patriots.
He has some impressive wiggle in his routes, and after the catch, he can play as a flyer on special teams and projects as a potentially dynamic return man. Gunner Olszewski was an All-Pro last year as a return man, but Eskridge may have a more significant upside in the role because of his next-level acceleration.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler broke down Eskridge’s skills and bottom line projection for the 5-foot-9, 186-pound 24-year-old.
A three-year starter at Western Michigan, Eskridge lined up in the slot and to the boundary in head coach Tim Lester’s offensive scheme. After a short
stint as a two-way player in 2019, he returned to receiver full-time in 2020 and had a prolific senior season with 100-plus receiving yards in five of WMU’s six games, registering a catch of at least 47 yards in each contest. With his ability to turn small plays into big plays, Eskridge is the definition of a playmaker due to his explosive feet and ability to mix his speeds as naturally as you or I breathe. He can out-athlete opponents in the MAC, but that won’t always be the case in the NFL, and he needs scale back the wild tendencies. Overall, Eskridge is undersized and must sharpen his route tree, but he is a gifted athlete with the speed, toughness and promising pass-catching traits to warrant early NFL playing time on offense and special teams.
Brugler projects Eskridge to go in the third round, but CLNS’ Evan Lazar believes he’ll be more highly regarded and won’t make it past the second.
I think Eskridge will be a top 50 pick. I know some analysts think he could sneak into the first round. He's coming off the board in the second for sure.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 8, 2021
In any case, the Patriots should have ample opportunity to take Eskridge whether the selection is facilitated by a trade back to acquire a later first-round selection, or if they draft him in the second round.
Here is a look at all of the Patriots’ draft picks.
- Round 1, Pick 15 (15) – Assigned Selection
- Round 2, Pick 15 (46) – Assigned Selection
- Round 3, Pick 33 (96) – Compensatory Selection
- Round 4, Pick 15 (120) – Assigned Selection
- Round 4, Pick 17 (122) – From Arizona Cardinals through Houston Texans
- Round 4, Pick 34 (139) – Compensatory Selection
- Round 5, Pick 33 (177) – Compensatory Selection
- Round 6, Pick 4 (188) – From Houston Texans
- Round 6, Pick 13 (197) – From Dallas Cowboys
- Round 7, Pick 15 (242) – Assigned Selection
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