The Chicago Bears have myriad glaring needs: offensive line, quarterback, cornerback and safety, to name a few, but the laundry list doesn’t stop there. They could also use some depth in the wide receivers’ room, and one insider may have revealed who the team could be targeting at wideout in the upcoming draft.
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network said this week that the Bears have their eye on speedy young wideout D’Wayne Eskridge, who is garnering comparisons to Tyreek Hill:
“When looking at pure speed receivers and pass catchers who can stretch the field,” Pauline said, “there’s about a half-dozen to be found in the top-100 picks. Western Michigan product D’Wayne Eskridge is one of them, and teams such as the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Chicago Bears may target him.”
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What Were Eskridge’s College Stats?
A three-year starter at Western Michigan, Eskridge would have started all four seasons, but his 2019 campaign was cut short due to a collarbone injury. In his first full year with the team in 2017 (he also played as a reserve in 2016), Eskridge had 30 catches for 506 yards (16.9 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
He followed that up by catching 38 passes for 776 yards and three scores in 2018. He missed the bulk of the 2019 season with the collarbone injury, but he played well in a pandemic-shortened season in 2020, notching 33 receptions for 768 yards (that’s a whopping 23.3 yards per catch) and a career-high eight touchdowns.
“Eskridge has seen a monumental climb in his draft stock since the delayed start of the 2020 MAC season,” Pauline said, adding that the talented wideout “went on to impress NFL decision-makers with two terrific days of practice at the Senior Bowl, where no one was able to cover him.”
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Where in the Draft Will Eskridge Be Selected?
According to Pauline, the Bears aren’t alone in their interest: “Many in the league feel Eskridge has cemented himself as a late second-round selection. So who’s looking at him as Round 2 closes out? I’m told the speed-needy Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are two teams that are high on Eskridge. So too are the Chicago Bears, who are presently shopping third-year wideout, Anthony Miller.”
If the Bears do decide to move on from Miller — and drafting a wide receiver would be a good indication they plan to do that, particularly after the signing of Marquise Goodwin — Eskridge has more speed than Miller, but he’s about the same in the route-running department. One advantage Eskridge has over other wideouts in the draft, however, is his experience as a kickoff returner. He ran back 17 kicks for 467 yards (27.5 yards per return) and a touchdown last year, so he could be a potential replacement for Cordarrelle Patterson if the Bears draft him.
Here’s more about Eskridge courtesy of his scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:
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. 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. He can rise up and get the tall throws but catching through contact is where he is likely to struggle. He has gadget potential in the quick game and is a potentially dangerous kick returner, but his biggest selling point might be as a field stretcher from the slot.
The Bears could very well nab a receiver in the draft this year, and we know how much head coach Matt Nagy loves players with speed, so Eskridge is definitely one for Bears Nation to watch.
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