The Seahawks tried to trade back. John Schneider confirmed as much following Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s no surprise, of course, given he came into the draft with just three selections at his disposal.
Sitting at pick No. 56 in the second round, Seattle had a trade lined up to move back that fell through at the last second. Thus, Schneider and the Seahawks went ahead and selected the top player on their board: Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge.
The speedster with a track background had a monster season in 2020 with 33 catches for 768 yards and eight touchdowns in just six games.
“We’re getting a guy that is competitive, hungry, intense – he’s got some dog to him,” Schneider said.
Eskridge ran a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, meaning Seattle now has a trio of receivers with elite speed along with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
“That’s attractive," Carroll added. "We want to make sure all of our guys are big threats. All of our guys run 4.3s.”
Seattle sorely lacked yards after the catch last season. Part of that is due to personnel while part of it might be due to scheme. Still, Eskridge projects to have that ability in spades. Carroll referenced that the 5-foot-9 wideout is dynamic with the football in his hands.
“It is part of it,” Carroll said. “It’s the whole makeup of this player. We want guys who are versatile. We want a player with good rhythm and tempo. We like to keep guys out there on the field, so they need to be versatile to do all of those things.”
That versatility includes the ability to be integrated into the running game.
“We can hand him the football,” Carroll said. “We can flip it to him. We can do some things behind the line of scrimmage. He’s run very effectively on reverses and stuff like that. The returns show that as well. We were looking for a receiver that would have all of that versatility, and he was an exciting one to get.”
Eskridge told reporters that he knows how to play all three receiver positions. Metcalf and Lockett also have the ability to move around the formation. Carroll said that ability to mix-and-match guys around the offense will be crucial under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
Seattle’s head coach obviously didn’t want to peel back the curtain on what Waldron’s offensive plan might look like, but Carroll did note that there will be “more emphasis” on versatility than in the past.
Eskridge will also contribute on special teams, likely as a kick returner and as a gunner on punt coverage. He racked up 467 yards and one touchdown on just 17 returns for the Broncos in 2020.
He just turned 24 in March, making him one of the oldest prospects in the draft, but Schneider said there’s still plenty of tread on Eskridge’s tires.
“He’s a guy who is still fresh and trains hard.”
Seattle has two picks left on Day 3, one in the fourth round at 129 and one seventh-rounder at 250. Who knows whether either of those selections will be able to contribute as rookies. Regardless, the Seahawks added an explosive playmaker on Friday evening who should be able to compete for gameday reps immediately.