2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Safeties

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Oct 3, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Louisville Cardinals running back L.J. Scott (27) makes contact with Syracuse Orange safety Durell Eskridge (3) during the first quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Louisville won the game 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Durell Eskridge, Syracuse

While not much is known about this likely late-round pick out of Syracuse, he is a good dark horse prospect that could be a great value in the later rounds. Listed at 6’3″ and either 203 or 207 pounds, he is a big body for the position, and has potential to be useful as a strong safety or at least as an in-the-box safety because of his large frame, as well as a cover safety who can match up with taller tight ends.

He is a good athlete who moves and changes directions fluidly and has good speed and breaks on plays quickly when he does diagnose them. He’s also a very capable tackler, something that most safeties in this draft struggle with. He does appear somewhat understrength on tape, especially in the upper body, and he is also somewhat raw, often slow to recognize and react to a play, and taking bad angles when he does. He is also still recovering from hand surgery in the 2014 offseason, a red flag, though not a huge one.

Eskridge is a gritty, resilient young man from an impovershed background who left Syracuse early in order to earn money to help support his family, and has at times experienced homelessness, much like Raiders WR James Jones in his own childhood.

Reggie McKenzie may love the kid’s mental and emotional toughness and sense of responsibility and purpose, enough to give him a good strong look in the Combine as a potential Day 3 selection as a safety.

Here are some things Eskridge can do to help himself.

1. Bench Press/Broad Jump: The two strength events will be crucial for Eskridge, who is thought to be under-strength and not able to match explosive power to his frame at the next level. If Eskridge has been hitting the weightroom since his college season ended and can add a few inches to his broad jump and a couple of reps to his bench, he can alleviate concerns in this area.

At 6’3″ and over 200 pounds he will want to show up as one of the stronger safeties in this draft, which will allow him to be a better fit for teams who use the safeties heavily in man coverage or down around the line of scrimmage in run defense.

2. Medical: Eskridge has very little control over this event, of course, but after major surgery on his hand less than a year ago, teams will want to see the results of his medical evaluation. If he can get a clean bill of health on his hand, it will wipe away concerns about his durability at the next level.

3. W Drill: The W drill is all about fluidity and quick changes of direction – which Eskridge does well on tape – combined with quick reactions to input. The latter is something that Eskridge looks to potentially have an issue with. If he can quickly react to commands/stimuli from the coach in the drill, it will show that he can quickly respond to something when he knows what it is he needs to do, and his delays in college had more to do with tape work and coaching – something that can be corrected by an NFL staff, especially one with a DB’s coach like Marcus Robertson and a seasoned player like Charles Woodson on the roster.