Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar (89) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Gavin Escobar: What to Expect

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar (89) dives for the end zone in the second quarter against Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen (29) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last May, the Dallas Cowboys decided to join the “Former Basketball-Player Tight End Club” when they selected Gavin Escobar out of San Diego State with the 47th pick. The selection raised many eyebrows, and a year later, many are still not sure what will come of the pick.

As a college player, Escobar’s numbers did not progress steadily over the years. His best season came as a redshirt sophomore when he caught 51 passes for 750 yards and seven touchdowns. Deciding to enter the draft after his junior season, a slightly less productive campaign, the former “Aztec Warrior” still drew high praise.

Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar (89) runs the ball up field for a touch down against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

He was a top performer among Tight Ends at the combine, though opted not to lift. At his pro day, he only put up 12 reps on bench press, placing him way behind fellow prospects Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz that completed 22 and 24, respectively. Still, Escobar’s athleticism shone brightly, and on tape, his hands stole the show. In assessing the surprise pick by Dallas, draft analyst Mike Mayock had this to say:

“Maybe the best ball skills of any of them. This kid’s got great ball skills. He’s a gifted hands catcher. He will be a great short and intermediate catcher for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Jonathan Bales of Bleacher Report similarly predicted that Escobar’s primary role would be as a red-zone threat, pointing out that at San Diego State, the Tight End converted 13.9% of his receptions into touchdowns.  Sure enough, as a Cowboy, 2 of Escobar’s 9 receptions went for Touchdowns (22%).  Originally thought to be played in a two Tight End set with Jason Witten, #89 became more of a situational player, owed perhaps to his still-developing blocking abilities.

Alas, just as Escobar was feeling like a second-round reach, the then-22 year old made an electrifying play in Week 17 which excited the fanbase.  During the second-quarter, Kyle Orton passed the ball to #89 about ten-yards out from the end-zone.  Escobar then showcased serious athleticism by sprinting and flipping over Eagles Safety Nate Allen for a touchdown (pictured above).  While only one play, fans finally saw the abilities that scouts and coaches had been raving about.

In 2014, Escobar can do nothing but work hard, as it is up to Scott Linehan, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, Rowdy the Cowboys, and whoever else is calling plays in Dallas to get the young man some playing time.  There is no doubt he need to get stronger, but foremost is preserving the play-making ability that got him drafted.  If the coaches can figure out the best way to get Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, and the equally athletic James Hanna involved, the Dallas Cowboys will have the offense for which they have been searching.

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Gavin Escobar James Hanna Jason Garrett Jason Witten Scott Linehan Tight End

  • SmartThinking

    One amazing catch as a professional does not a TE make! This Dallas team has an awful lot of short to intermediate pass catchers and fewer and fewer serious deep threats. Certainly nothing to make opposing defensive backfields shiver in their Reeboks.

    So far, Escobar’s just another intermediate pass catcher with far more limited assets. I want to see him work across the middle … just past the linebackers. I want to see him knock down, or at the very least, contain a DE or CB rush and do it effectively … more than once.

    If this kid has so many tools that he commands a #2 draft pick, frankly, we should have seen a helluva lot more of him in his first year.

    Once again, the Dallas brain trust has used their precious draft pick seed corn on a selection who requires development time and increased conditioning. I’m surprised he didn’t come to training camp needing surgery like all the rest.

    In my view, this team is chock full of these kind of guys and that’s why the team goes 8-8 every year. I’m worn out watching them struggle.

  • Old Frog

    Escobar needs to be more involved this year or it will be hard for anyone not to call him a wasted pick in the second round. Hopefully the FO realizes we need starters in the early rounds this year, not projects and backups. Nobody would complain if he had been taken in the 4th round but in the second he needs to be an instant contributor…which clearly he hasn’t been. I agree that one photo of that one play has become his singular, signature accomplishment and he needs many more moments like that to boost my opinion of him.

  • Scott.

    He very well turn put to be a good pick at 2, but they should have addressed other area of needs. Can never have enough quality DL or OL. With Whitten on the roster and a capable Hanna this was a stretch. Oh and that hog wash about 3 te sets was just that hog wash.

  • Earl Robertson

    The pick might not have been as bad of it wasn’t for them having Hannah already on the roster. Hannah has great potential but for some reason he isn’t use like he should and now with Escobar probably will never be able to showcase his talent until he goes to another team