WMU coach on top Seahawks pick D’Wayne Eskridge: ‘He can control his speed better than anybody’
May 9, 2021, 10:00 AM
(Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Seahawks added significant speed to their offense with their top pick of the NFL Draft, wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge. But just because Eskridge can run a 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds doesn’t guarantee success in the NFL.
There’s a lot more to his speed than how fast he can sprint, however.
“I’ve coached a lot of fast guys and a lot of them aren’t great route runners,” Tim Lester, Eskridge’s college coach at Western Michigan, told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy. “Using his speed and understanding, he can control his speed better than anybody and he can accelerate faster than 99% of America.”
Eskridge moved around a fair bit positionally at Western Michigan, including time as a defensive back before he returned to wide receiver. Lester said Eskridge’s time on defense was mainly to help his chances on playing in the NFL as there had been word that he would be looked at as a DB by scouts, but it ended up making him an even better receiver in the long run.
“When he went to defense and started having to defend these guys that were better route runners, when he came back to offense… man, he was a totally different player,” Lester said. “We went from running two or three routes to running the whole route tree. And I was just hoping we had a chance to play this fall for him to show everybody the whole tree. No one could cover him.”
Let’s go through a few more things Lester had to say about the Seahawks’ second-round pick.
The surprise element
Eskridge’s speed may have gotten him in the door in Seattle, but he could become a fan favorite because of his willingness to dish out hits.
“The one thing I think people will be surprised about is his power. He’s the most physical receiver,” Lester said. “Someone on Twitter I think like a month ago put out a highlight tape of his blocking, and (it shows Eskridge) just decapitating people. He has such a way, he’s not afraid of contact. I was not worried at all when he moved to defense… I think that power and speed combination along with his work ethic was going to land somewhere in the NFL.”
Which leads to the next point.
Seahawks getting more than just talent
Lester couldn’t say enough about Eskridge’s dedication to his craft, hammering home how the 24-year-old wide receiver has never been satisfied relying simply on his talent.
“D’Wayne is just a hard-working kid. He’s been one of the guys that I enjoy coaching just because he’s always here. I mean, shoot, he was here yesterday,” Lester said. “There’s no one in the building, the players are off, the coaches are off, I’m the only one in the building and walk down there and he snuck himself into the weight room somehow or another. He’s always around, he’s always working, he always pops in with a smile on his face. That’s why you do what you do, when you get to coach guys like him. He happens to be a phenomenal talent, too, but as far as the person, he’s a special kid.”
That equals the right combination for a player looking to make some noise in the NFL.
“We have tons of hard workers but it’s a very rare breed that get a chance to have success on Sundays. It has to be a combination of unbelievable talent, unbelievable strength, but if the work ethic’s not there, it’s one thing you learn quickly about the NFL. … That’s the one thing he has had from the moment he got here. He keeps getting faster because he works at it.”
You can hear the entire interview with Lester in the podcast at this link or in the player below.