Seahawks training camp battle: Wide receivers beyond Lockett and Metcalf
Returning Eskridge and Swain resume 2021 Seahawks roster battle
We expected big things from Dee Eskridge when the Hawks took him in the second round last year. As we know, his season was derailed by a concussion he suffered in the season opener versus the Colts, a game that saw him catch his only target. He didn’t get back on the field until mid-November, and only saw 19 targets for the rest of the year. At 5’9″ and 190 pounds, he’s very similar to Lockett, a master out of the slot.
When Eskridge was on the field, he was quite effective. Let’s compare some advanced stats, shall we? One stat line belongs to Eskridge, the other to Lockett. One note: these are per attempt, as the raw numbers would be rather obvious.
YAC 1st Dn Drops BrkTkl INT
3.2 40% 0% 20% 0%
3.8 56% 0% 3% 4%
The second stat line shows a definite advantage in yards after contact and first downs. The first line though has a far higher rate of broken tackles and didn’t offer any interceptions when targeted. When you only catch 10 balls, those two broken tackles look a lot better than if you’d caught 73 passes and broke just two tackles. So yes, the first stat line belongs to Eskridge.
I’m not saying he’s as good as Lockett at all. For one thing, Lockett averages 16.1 yards per catch, while Eskridge managed just 6.4 yards on his receptions. A lot of that can be accounted for by the design of the play, of course. We can’t discount Eskridge on those jet sweeps. Four carries for 59 yards was a solid contribution, considering his very limited playing time.
Look at it this way. Eskridge was only on the field for 12 snaps in that game in Indianapolis. He carried that ball twice and was targeted once, making a six-yard catch. Overall, he accounted for 28 yards on those 12 snaps.
If not for the concussion, I can easily see him getting 20-24 snaps per game all year; in fact, he got at least 20 snaps in five of the last six games. At full strength, Eskeridge could add 500 total yards to the Seahawks offense on those same 20-24 snaps per game.
Freddie Swain isn’t anything like the physical beast that Metcalf is, but at 6’0″ and 199 pounds, he’s bigger than either Lockett or Eskridge. Despite this, opposing defenses managed to completely lose sight of him a couple of times last year, most notably on his 68-yard bomb against the Titans. Literally, there was no defender within 10 yards of him on that play. I suppose that’s what can happen when you’re worried about Metcalf and Lockett.
Swain basically doubled his rookie production in his sophomore season. He accounted for four touchdowns, a dozen first downs, and even pitched in with five runs. He also returned 22 punts, and while he wasn’t spectacular in the role, his 8.6-yard average ranked 10th in the league.
While he didn’t make it to the end zone as a returner, it’s worth noting that only two punts were run back for a score in the entire league. Given his production in multiple roles, I can’t imagine Swain not making the 53-man roster.