He’d Look Good in Silver and Black: Syracuse’s Durell Eskridge



Nov 23, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange safety Durell Eskridge (3) reacts to a defensive stop against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Durell Eskridge is a big, physical safety who could anchor Oakland’s secondary for years.

As the legendary career of Charles Woodson winds down, it would be wise for the Raiders to start exploring realistic options to replace him. There are some young guys floating around the depth chart who could be forced into the role and be serviceable if needed. The problem is, you can’t replace Charles Woodson with just a serviceable guy.

Enter Syracuse’s Durell Eskridge.

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Eskridge is a 6-3, 210 pound safety with great acceleration for his size. He’s both a sure tackler and a hard hitter (music NSFW) — a rare combination in today’s NFL. His long arms give him the sort of range on deep and jumps balls that you’d expect from a guy standing 6-5 or 6-6.

If there is a downside to Eskridge, it’s that he’s raw. Watching him move around, it’s apparent that he still hasn’t grown into and adapted to his frame. Once that happens, he’ll be able to work on getting stronger. He’ll also take questionable angles to the ball on running plays. This is something that spending time studying Woodson should help alleviate.

Perhaps the most likable thing about Eskridge is his story. Eskridge has never lived in an actual house. He’s lived in apartments and projects. He’s slept in police stations and on the street in cars. There were a variety of reasons for those woes, but Eskridge and his family never made excuses.

Like current Raider Kenbrell Thompkins, Eskridge grew up in the Liberty City projects of Miami. Like Thompkins, football was a way out of Liberty City. Eskridge plans on buying his mother the house she never had with his first contract — a gesture to pay her back for the struggles she went through to raise him all those years.

These are the stories you like to hear. You have a guy who isn’t playing for the glitz and the glam, the fame and the fortune. This is a guy who plays the game because he loves it, it saved him and it can save his family. He not only wants to be — he needs to be playing football.

These are the guys the Raiders need — hungry guys with a sense of urgency and a willingness to succeed.

Durell Eskridge is a project. He’ll go as late as the sixth round thanks to his small sample size in college and a wrist injury. That said, he’s a low risk, high reward penny-stock. He’s as physically gifted as Michigan State’s Kurtis Drummond — a guy who could be the first safety off the board. As he grows, both mentally and physically, he’ll only get better — he just needs the chance in the right situation with the right people around him.

I don’t know if there is a person more right for Eskridge’s situation than Charles Woodson. There may not be a person more right to lead the Oakland Raider secondary into the future than Durell Eskridge. If you hear the Raiders call his name on draft weekend, you should be pretty excited.

Next: Raiders workout Vic Beasley

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