Matt Waldman’s RSP Twitter Vids: Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge

Matt Waldman’s RSP examines the game of Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge who is making a good impression on the practice field of the Senior Bowl.

D’Wayne Eskridge is a little punk and I say this as a most endearing compliment of his game.

This 5-9, 190-pound receiver from Western Michigan who spent a good portion of his career as a two-way player at receiver and cornerback, Eskridge plays the game with an edge and has the speed to burn—Western Michigan timed him at 4.33 seconds in the 40-Yard Dash in 2018.

The first time I saw Eskridge, I wondered if he played with too much emotion. Early in the game, I wondered if I was watching a head case.

He picked a fight with an Eastern Michigan defender that ripped the ball loose from Eskridge during a fly sweep. At the end of the next play, which featured Eskridge as a stalk blocker, he walked three yards over to the opponent he had blocked seconds earlier and head-butted the defender.

He spent the first quarter-and-a-half bullying the cornerbacks matched against him: Hard shots to the upper body before snapping his back to them, finishing intermediate routes with a shoulder to chest, and instigating physical contact during the echo of the post-play whistle.

As the game unfolded, became clear the Eskridge was working an angle. By the second half, Eskridge was still slapping away the arms of his opponent and doing some shoving post-play, but he pulled back the tactics so they fell just below the line of unsportsmanlike conduct.

And as he was toeing the line just south of Cortland Finnegan, Eskridge upped his game as a blocker, sustaining his blocks and running cornerbacks and safeties off the field, into the turf, and even into officials.

Here’s an illustration of Eskridge’s progression of instigation.

No one at the Senior Bowl is excited about Eskridge because he’s a 5-9, 190-pound receiver who can block. They’re going to like his feel for pacing his releases and stems and setting up defenders with tempo changes and his grasp of different footwork and hand usage to win at the line of scrimmage at the top of his routes.

They’ll like he can stack a defender early if he earns a clean release and that he has the speed to turn the corner on a trailing cornerback after catching a crossing route. Get Eskridge in the open field, and cornerbacks and safeties have 60-80 yards of time to read and memorize his football license plate number.

They might even identify the state where he got his emissions sticker.

If Eskridge can address inconsistencies with his hand usage at the catch point that heightens the odds of drops and develops a feel for situations where he can undercut his coverage and jump back for the ball, you’re looking at a player who will occasionally remind of Steve Smith, our planet’s Ultimate Game Wrecker.

It’s a big if, but the fact it’s even an “if” is an indication of Eskridge’s promise as an NFL contributor.

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