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Last Time Out: Grading The Tight Ends In 2013
(Editor’s Note: In conjunction with the DallasCowboys.com position series, here’s a look back at how each player performed last season. Today we look at the tight ends.)
Jason Witten -- His 2013 season still earned him his ninth Pro Bowl selection, but it was a few notches down from the record-setting performance he gave in 2012. Still, Witten’s 73 catches for 851 yards last season was another superb season for one of the NFL’s best of all time. Witten also had eight touchdown catches, the second-most of his career.
Gavin Escobar -- His rookie season wasn’t a major success, but some of that was expected. More of a pass-catcher in college, Escobar had to block more than he was accustomed to. He only had nine catches but his 17-yard touchdown and summersault into the end zone against the Eagles was a glimpse of the dynamic player the Cowboys are hoping for.
James Hanna -- Hanna’s role in the offense appeared to be increased early last season, especially after he caught four passes in Week 2 against the Chiefs. But in the next 14 games, Hanna would only get eight more, including just one in the final six weeks of the season. His 73 yards receiving ranked ninth on the team.
Jordan Najvar -- His senior season at Baylor saw Najvar start eight games, having missed one because of an injury. He was a major blocking presence for the Bears’ explosive offense, and he earned honorable mention All-Big 12 despite notching just 10 catches for 85 yards.
Scout’s Take: I believe I have an understanding of what these coaches want to do with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar, but I am not so sure about James Hanna. There was a time where I thought Hanna would have been a very productive player in this scheme, but he is clearly the third option here and with the continued growth of Escobar, he is going to get less and less of an opportunity. The problem with Hanna is that if he is not on the field in a receiving role, than it means he will need to be that guy that can come into the scheme as a blocker and be effective -- which is not one of his strengths. Where Hanna has been solid is as a special teamer, but I am not sure that you can just keep him on the roster for that responsibility alone? My gut feeling is that if they just carry four tight ends, then Hanna will be fine but if it is just three, don’t be surprised if this front office tries to find a blocker on one of the other clubs to take his place. – Bryan Broaddus