Syracuse could end up with a few football players drafted to the NFL this year. No, it's highly unlikely anyone's going in the first round. But the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday, April 30, should feature some Orange athletes moving on to the next level.
As a preview for the Draft, we're providing some quick primers on a few former SU football players, and where they could be selected this weekend. Today:
Durell Eskridge, Free Safety
Career Stats (three years): 6 INT, 1 TD, 190 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 7 pass break-ups, 2 forced fumbles
NFL Scouting Combine Grade: 5.15 (4.63 40; 31-inch vert; 117-inch broad; 7.09 cone; 4.26 shuttle)
What People are Saying:
"Under the radar: Durell Eskridge of Syracuse has a lot of traits you like in a safety. He has good hands and size. The key to him being successful going forward is reading plays and reacting faster. If he can do that, he can potentially be a starter as a pro."
"I had him in the top 10 safety group for a while. I haven't seen him do well enough on a game-to-game basis, and I thought another year could have helped him, especially with the safeties that decided to come out."
"Tall safety with average instincts and average speed to chase throws over the top and range from hash to sideline. Eskridge plays with enough desire as a tackler to warrant a draft pick, but he’s got to prove that he has a bankable skill in the box or in coverage to go along with his size."
"...Eskridge has probably been the most dependable player back there for the Orange in the last two seasons, racking up 78 tackles and 68 tackles, respectively. There's some concern that he left too early and could have benefited from another season. That's probably true. Then again, he's got the talent to take a flier on in later rounds. If anything, his stock was hurt just because some other quality DBs came out early as well."
Most obviously, the New York Giants, who are already full of Syracuse guys (Coach Tom Coughlin, Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Jay Bromley, Jameel McClain), and are also in desperate need of some safety help going into 2015.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have also shown some interest, especially since they could potentially pair him with fellow former Orange SHAMAKRO Thomas in their secondary.
Eskridge himself has also highlighted interest from the Miami Dolphins, and according to him "about half of the league" has talked to him. That certainly makes sense given the NFL's shift toward much more pass-happy offenses.
We know what Eskridge was for Syracuse -- a strong player at the free safety spot who could hit well, but often sacrificed sound coverage for the potential of big plays (see his senior year in particular). There was also a ton of pressure on him throughout his time with the Orange, being forced to lead the secondary when not much else was going on back there.
If he can improve his tackling technique and refocus on coverage over big plays, he stands a very good chance to not only get drafted in those mid-rounds, but also make a roster and contribute right away.
Good luck this weekend, Durell!