Durell Eskridge joined the Orange program as a prep possession receiver who lacked a burst or second gear to excel at that position, but he made a smooth and rapid transition to the secondary. He spent two seasons observing before stepping into the lineup full-time, but led the team in interceptions (four) and tackles (78) last season. The junior recorded 68 tackles (47 solos) in 2014, third-best on the team. He also picked off a pass and deflected three others. The team’s losing season and missed opportunity to play in a bowl might have played heavily in the safety’s decision to be one of the first underclassmen to declare for the 2015 draft.
Eskridge has an athletic physique with good overall muscle definition throughout, including broad shoulders, a V-shaped torso, tight waist and hips, good bubble and strong thighs and calves. He is very agile working in space and excels at breaking down and making open field tackles. He has the ability to come up and support the run, but also does a nice job of executing his second gear to deliver big plays outside the box. With his low pad level, balance and body control, he looks very fluid coming out of his backpedal with no wasted steps.
The junior shows good vision tracking the ball in flight, but you would like to see him more determined to compete for the pass at its high point rather than being more concerned with hitting his opponent (great intimidator, but with his natural hands and leaping ability, you want to see more thefts and pass break-ups). He is alert to blocking schemes and is fast to come up and plug holes inside the box when asked to provide run support.
Eskridge is not as smooth staying with receivers in the deep secondary, but he has enough speed to recover when beaten. He moves effectively around the field, thanks to improving some rough spots in his transitioning in 2014 from the previous season (seems to like roaming the field as a free safety rather than sitting back and defending the deep part of the zone on the strong-side).
Where he excels in this category is jamming his man at the line of scrimmage (44 reroutes in his last 24 games). He can jam and release the tight ends and slot receivers when working underneath and when he has to switch off his man, he has the loose hips to pick up the secondary receiver before that opponent can get behind him.
Eskridge shows good anticipation skills covering activity underneath, and is especially effective covering curls and flats. He does not allow much cushion to the receiver, even though he displays above average range off the hash. He needs to be more alert to No. 2 type receivers in the deep zone, but did improve in that area as a junior. Still, he might be a better fit as an inside-the-box type, as is much better working vs. plays in front of him than in the deepest part of the secondary.
Eskridge has good leaping ability, but you would like to see him compete for the pass at its high point more often rather than trying to dislodge the receivers from their “rib cages” (seems more intend on knocking out his man rather than going for the ball). You can see he has the athletic ability to get his hands on some high throws. Still, you have to be impressed with the way he will lay out his body to make the play or “torpedo” a ball carrier. The problem is, his recklessness has resulted in several upper body injuries that have teams openly concerned about his long term durability.
Durell Eskridge Scouting Combine measurables
6-3/208 (4.63 forty)
32 3/8-inch arm length
9 5/8-inch hands
31-inch vertical jump
117-inch broad jump
7.09 3 cone drill
4.26 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS
Position: QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS