Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features tight end Gavin Escobar.
Name: Gavin Escobar
Position: Tight End
Height/Weight: 6-6 / 249
Experience: 1 season
College: San Diego State
Key stat: Two of Escobar’s nine receptions in his rookie season went for touchdowns.
Contract Status: Signed through 2017
2013 Impact: Quite honestly, I expected more for Gavin Escobar and it was not because he was a 2nd round selection for the Cowboys, but I expected more from all of their tight ends. Earlier in this series, we talked about James Hanna and what was expected from him in his 2nd season but that did not materialize either. There was a great deal made before the season about how this offensive coaching staff was interested in going with a “12” personnel package and getting Witten, Hanna and Escobar all in the mix. What became reality for the offense was that as a group they were better in “11” personnel with the extra wide receiver on the field and all the tight ends suffered. What was clear going forward that with Escobar, in the opportunities that he did receive, he was productive. We remember a touchdown reception against the Rams up the seam. There was another catch against the Giants in the Meadowlands that gained five yards and put the offense in a manageable 2nd down situation on the their game winning drive and there was the catch in the flat against the Eagles with the division on the line, where he flipped into the end zone. Not matter the situation of the game, Escobar managed to come up with that one catch, where you thought he had no shot at all. There was never a question in his ability to catch the ball but what was surprising is that he was not used more. From what I saw in the pre-season, he had the ability to make plays and he should have finished the year with more than just nine receptions. I understood the intent with what the coaches were trying to do with their personnel groups but I have to question why they failed to take advantage of a player with Escobar’s ability.
Where He Fits: In the big picture, Gavin Escobar is the future of your tight end position. There will come a day where we will no longer see Jason Witten on the field and there will need to be a replacement for him. There are plenty of things to like about Escobar and what he can bring as a receiving tight end but his struggle will come in the off season in an effort to remake his body. He has the frame to add weight and strength which is something badly lacked coming out of San Diego State. The athletic part of the game will not be an issue for him but the physical part will if he doesn’t develop. I never will believe that Gavin Escobar will be that powerful inline blocker, but there will need to be times where he is going to need to be stronger at the point of attack and that will be his challenge in the coming months.
Rowan Kavner: The decision to grab Escobar in the second round was hotly debated and will continue to be criticized if the Cowboys don’t find a way to get him more involved in the passing game to work alongside Jason Witten, who’s not going anywhere for a while. Escobar showed flashes as a red zone threat with his two touchdown catches, but nine catches weren’t the expectation given the way the Cowboys were talking up the prevalence and importance of the “12-personnel” in the offseason. His size and soft hands make for an intriguing combination, but there can’t be stretches going forward where they leave him out of the game plan if they want him to develop into the player they expected. There was a stretch of five games during the middle of the 2013 season where he didn’t even get a target. The key for Escobar will be building his strength in the offseason, and both Escobar and James Hanna are capable of a breakout season in 2014.