I’ve been searching the roster of the New York Jets for those players that have an opportunity to have an impact on the team this year and into the future. In this particular moment, I’d like to look at another undrafted free agent for the Jets that has the tools to become a key contributor for this defense. I’m talking about Durell Eskridge, a safety out of Syracuse University. He measures out at 6’3″/208 lbs., which makes him a prototypical sized free safety.
Eskridge has an interesting story behind him as well. Eskridge grew up poor in Miami, raised by his mother Margaret Eskridge. The family struggled with poverty and was homeless several times as he grew up. Despite the difficulties, he never lost focus on his football career.
More from Jets News
- NY Jets should target TE Hunter Henry in free agency
- NY Jets: Why the team should target cornerback Shaquill Griffin
- NY Jets reportedly non-tendering linebacker Harvey Langi
- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
He attended South Central High School in Miami and helped his team to the 6A Divisional Championship in 2010. The team finished with a 12 – 1 record and Eskridge ended his senior year ranked as the No. 2 safety and wide receiver recruit in the nation.
As a senior he had 20 receptions for 300 yards which resulted in five touchdowns plus he also returned a punt for a touchdown and added two interceptions on the defensive side.
Recruited heavily, Eskridge settled on Syracuse to continue his football career. He sat out the 2011 season at Syracuse and did not appear in any games. In 2012 he played all 13 games for Syracuse where he played free safety. In 2013 Eskridge really began to come into his own recording five interceptions and locking down the position as his own. In 2014 he only had one interception but wasn’t targeted deep out of respect for his excellent coverage skills.
Eskridge considered coming out for the NFL Draft after his breakout season due to the financial difficulties his family was still enduring. He decided against it and returned to Syracuse for another year. Eskridge entered this year’s draft early as the need to aid his family outweighed a return for his senior season.
Eskridge is a raw talent, make no mistake. His angles are often poor and he’ll need to put on some upper body strength to compete with NFL receivers. He does show good instincts however, and with proper coaching he has enough athleticism and football IQ to make the transition into the pros. Another year at the college level to develop and Eskridge might have been drafted somewhere in the 4th or 5th round int he 2016 NFL Draft.
The free safety position on the Jets is a fluid one. The heir to the starting job is apparently Marcus Gilchrist, but he is coming off an injury and reportedly won’t be ready until the start of training camp. Behind Gilchrist the talent level drops off a bit with questions surrounding Antonio Allen, Rontez Miles, and Jaiquawn Jarrett. As a result Eskridge has a real opportunity to make a spot for himself.
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Durell Eskridge (35) runs with the ball during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
I watched some film on Eskridge, and while it’s not impressive, you can see the potential is definitely there. I think the Jets’ scouting department found themselves a winner here. He has the tools and apparently the determination to succeed at the next level.
With proper coaching he can absolutely win himself a roster spot this year, if not on the 53 man roster, then certainly he has a shot at the practice squad. A true free safety is one piece of the puzzle the Jets are missing going forward. Eskridge might be the guy to fill that spot but he’ll need to prove it.
That is Eskridge in a nutshell. He’s a tough durable player who plays with intelligence. His athleticism and size make him ideal at the free safety position. He also has returning skills which the Jets might choose to utilize as well.
He also played some wide receiver in college, has a good set of hands, making him versatile enough to experiment with at WR as well. The tools and skill-set are in place, now it falls on Eskridge and the coaching staff to turn him into a NFL contributor. I wish him the best of luck going ahead, he’s fought awfully hard to get here!
Any thoughts on Eskridge? How do you see the free safety position for the Jets? Bring your thoughts by leaving comments below! Let’s Talk Jet Football!!