Another speedster appears to be on the Green Bay Packers‘ draft radar.
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network recently reported the Packers are one of three NFL teams that have shown a high interest in Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge ahead of the 2021 NFL draft. He is currently projected to be selected between the second and fourth rounds next week with late in the second considered his ceiling.
“I’m told the speed-needy Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are two teams that are high on Eskridge,” Pauline wrote. “So, too, are the Chicago Bears, who are presently shopping third-year wideout Anthony Miller.”
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Eskridge’s Draft Profile
There are plenty of reasons to like Eskridge as a draft target for the Packers. His breakaway speed, which won him three Indiana sprinting titles in high school, and fearlessness on contested catches could help him become their first legitimate slot weapon since Randall Cobb. He would also instantly become the top candidate to take over return duties for Tyler Ervin/Tavon Austin.
Eskridge wore all of those hats during his five years at Western Michigan, averaging 18.5 yards per reception with a final career tally of 121 catches. He was at his best in 2020 when he caught 33 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns over just six games, adding two rushing attempts for 43 yards and returning 17 kickoffs for 467 yards and a touchdown. For his efforts, the Mid-American Conference named him a first-teamer as both a wide receiver and kick returner.
Downfield + YAC Weapon, 4.3 Speed, Special Teams (Gunner/Returner)
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 21, 2021
While Eskridge is smaller than some of the other receivers in the draft at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, the Packers could benefit from adding a different body type to their receiver room. As it stands, none of the wideouts signed for the 2021 season are under six feet tall with Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6-4), Devin Funchess (6-4), Equanimeous St. Brown (6-4) and Allen Lazard (6-5) all giving their passing offense big-bodied options.
Eskridge’s size and overall skill set, of course, have drawn him natural comparisons to a certain Kansas City Chiefs star with some wondering if he could be the “next Tyreek Hill.”
Is Round 2 Too Early for Eskridge?
The Packers have one of the last picks of the second round (No. 62 overall) and could be in a position to spend it on Eskridge if they are truly high on his potential. Obviously, it would depend on whether they use their first-round pick on a wide receiver — as two in a row that early would be beyond bold — but they haven’t taken a wideout that early since 2002 and seem more likely to target one with a Day 2 or Day 3 pick.
But will Eskridge be the best choice on the board when they are on the clock in Round 2?
The Packers have been doing their homework on this year’s crop of receiving prospects. According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, they have also met virtually with Purdue’s Rondale Moore, Arizona State’s Frank Darby, UCLA’s Demetric Felton, Auburn’s Eli Stove and Northwestern’s Ramaud Bowman, among others.
It is always possible they do like Eskridge but value another guy more who could fall to them unexpectedly. The Packers also might not believe Eskridge is worth their second-round pick and instead have been eyeing him for the later rounds in hopes he goes unselected in Round 2.
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