The Seahawks loved what they saw when they scouted Dee Eskridge at Western Michigan — loved him enough, anyway, to select the speedy wide receiver with their first pick (56th overall) in the 2021 draft.
When Eskridge first arrived in Seattle, the Seahawks loved what they saw during his light workouts at organized team activities in June — loved him enough, anyway, to think of him as a legitimate option as the team’s No. 3 receiver behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
And the Seahawks, no doubt, had to love what they saw from Eskridge in his debut during Saturday’s preseason finale at Lumen Field — loved him enough, at least, to think he should indeed be a featured component of the new offense this season.
Eskridge, 5 foot 9 and 190 pounds, and wearing jersey No. 1, played the first two series against the Chargers on Saturday night and finished with just two touches — but, boy, were they two tantalizing touches.
On his first touch, Eskridge lined up to the left of the formation, came in motion presnap before taking an end-around handoff from Geno Smith. Following blocks from tight ends Will Dissly and Gerald Everett, Eskridge easily got around the right edge and cut up for a gain of 9 yards.
It’s a play — the endaround/fly sweep run — that Eskridge said he ran a lot in college.
“My specialty,” he said with a smile late Saturday.
What makes someone good at the fly sweep, he was asked.
“Good? I don’t know. Great — run fast like me,” he said.
Three plays later, Eskridge lined up in the same formation and ran a diagonal route through the middle of the field. As Smith stepped up in the pocket, Eskridge found space in the zone defense behind an inside linebacker and hauled in a pass from Smith for a 19-yard gain.
Later in the drive, Eskridge came into motion again and faked an end-around run on a play that resulted in an Alex Collins 8-yard run.
In a productive first half for the Seahawks offense, Collins capped that drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. On the play, Eskridge was wide left blocking a defensive back at the goal line.
So ended his limited Seahawks debut.
Eskridge watched the rest of the game from the sideline, giving way to the likes of Aaron Fuller, Penny Hart and Cody Thompson — guys competing for the fifth (and likely final) receiver spot on the roster.
Eskridge and second-year player Freddie Swain will be the third and fourth receivers, and each day Eskridge looks more capable of filling that No. 3 receiver role.
“He’s had a couple really good weeks for us and looked terrific,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Saturday night. “He’s a good ballplayer. He’s fast, he’s quick and explosive, and his hands are really strong and he’s got a really good mentality. … He looks like the guy we hoped we would get when we picked him, and we’re thrilled about him at this time.”
Eskridge missed the first few weeks of training camp because of a big-toe injury, but he’s come on strong over the past week. He’s been working one-on-one with Wilson for 45 minutes to an hour each morning at the team’s Renton practice field, usually starting at 5:45 a.m. The veteran QB made it clear he is eager see the young receiver catch up after the lost time early in camp.
“He won’t let me fail,” Eskridge said in an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Wilson, certainly, loves the idea of another playmaker on the field.
“Having Dee Eskridge out here is huge,” Wilson said last week. “… He’s a really smart player. He’s physical as can be. So to see why we drafted him — I knew why — but to be out here with him has been really cool. … He’s doing a tremendous job and I have tremendous confidence in him.”