Seattle Seahawks 90-Man Roundup: Will Dee Eskridge Finally Break Out?

Granted one last shot to impress with a new coaching staff, the Seahawks will be hoping fourth time is the charm for the oft-injured Dee Eskridge.
Jul 28, 2023; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Dee Eskridge (1) catches a pass during training camp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 28, 2023; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Dee Eskridge (1) catches a pass during training camp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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With OTAs wrapping up across the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks will open training camp at the VMAC in just under two months, officially ushering in the first season under new coach Mike Macdonald.

In preparation for the new incoming season, we'll be detailing every member of the Seahawks 90-man roster over the next several weeks, diving into scheme fits, exploring best and worst case scenarios and predicting what to expect from each player entering the 2024 campaign.

Down to his final strike after a lost third season, can Dee Eskridge finally right the ship as a dynamic playmaker on offense and special teams for the Seahawks?

Background

One of the country's most explosive playmakers at Western Michigan, Eskridge averaged more than 20 yards per reception in each of his final three college seasons and emerged as a dynamic return specialist as a senior, helping him lead the nation with 213 all-purpose yards per game in 2020. After shining at the Senior Bowl against a loaded receiver group, the Seahawks selected him with the 56th pick in the second round, but he hasn't come close to living up to expectations due to injuries and suspensions. After catching just 17 passes in his first two seasons while missing 14 combined games with injuries, he didn't record a single catch last year after missing the first six games serving a suspension and ending the year on injured reserve with a knee issue. Rather than cut him loose, Seattle restructured the final year of his contract to give him a chance to rebound with a new coaching staff.

Scheme Fit

When Eskridge has been healthy, the Seahawks have primarily used Eskridge in the slot with north of 59 percent of his offense snaps coming inside and often has been utilized there as a runner with jet sweeps, but he's also capable of occasionally playing in the backfield with a prior running back background along with kick and punt return capabilities.

Best Case Scenario

Taking advantage of his final opportunity to turn his career around, Eskridge not only seizes Seattle's primary kick return and punt return roles, but his athleticism and positional versatility shine in Ryan Grubb's offense, allowing him to carve out a significant gadget role as a complement to DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Worst Case Scenario

Despite staying healthy, Eskridge opens training camp too far down the depth chart to receive many snaps on offense and veterans Dareke Young and Laviska Shenault outperform him in the preseason. With other capable returners on the roster offering more contributions on offense, defense, and special teams, he's released in final cuts and doesn't return to the practice squad.

What to Expect in 2024

Despite being one of the most athletic players on Seattle's roster, Eskridge's physical tools haven't yielded much success between the lines in three prior seasons. After not making any receptions last season, some fans have been quick to dismiss him, but if there's a coach who can maximize his abilities, Grubb has a proven track record of getting strong production out of quick, explosive slot receivers in his system. New kickoff rules could also play to his strengths as a former running back with tackle-breaking skills.

The key for Eskridge, of course, will boil down to staying healthy and being available for the Seahawks. Every time he has appeared to generate some momentum towards playing to his potential, he has wound up being sidelined or suspended, being the polar opposite of reliable. With the talent in front of him on the depth chart, he will have to turn in his best training camp and preseason to maintain a roster spot, but his explosiveness as a kick and punt returner provides the best opportunity to stick and finally emerge as a viable playmaker for the team.

Previous 90-Man Roundups

Buddha Jones | Devin Richardson | TaMerik Williams | Rason Williams II | Ro Torrence | Nathan Pickering | Dee Williams | Devere Levelston | Kobe Lewis | Sunny Anderson | Mike Novitsky | Max Pircher | Easton Gibbs | Hayden Hatten | Garret Greenfield | Carlton Johnson | Matt Gotel |George Holani | Cody White | Ty Okada | Drake Thomas | McClendon Curtis | Easop Winston Jr. |Nelson Ceaser | Jonathan Sutherland | Lance Boykin | Joshua Onujiogu | Patrick O'Connell |Jack Westover | Raiqwon O'Neal | Tyler Mabry | Dareke Young | Tremayne Anchrum | DJ James | Artie Burns Kenny McIntosh | Cameron Young | Myles Adams | Brady Russell


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Corbin K. Smith

CORBIN K. SMITH

Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.