IRVING, Texas – Head coach Jason Garrett doesn't believe a rookie's statistics and his value as a draft pick are always directly correlated.
Garrett admits second-round pick Gavin Escobar's production hasn't been overwhelming with four catches through the first 10 games of his career, but he also doesn't regret using that selection on the tight end.
"Darren Woodson was a special teams player his first year, and he was taken in the second round," Garrett said. "He went on to have one of the great careers. So just because right at this moment the guy doesn't come in and take the league by storm, he's done a nice job for us with the opportunities we've given him. We're going to keep growing those opportunities and hopefully he continues to get better and better and better."
The emphasis on the two tight-end sets at the beginning of the year hasn't panned out the way many had thought after the Escobar pick was made. It's not that Escobar hasn't produced as much as he hasn't had many chances in the passing game, with just nine targets through 10 games.
He had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in his first five games, but since then he's had just one target and no catches. A lot of that has to do with the Cowboys wanting to use a variety of looks, and James Hanna is getting more involved behind and in addition to Jason Witten.
"James has done a lot of those things, Escobar's done some of those things, and we're going to play the guys who we think are most worthy of playing in that particular role, and then we're going to try to develop the younger guys," Garrett said. "He's still a part of that process and he can get more involved, there's no question about that."
In addition, when Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley and other players start to emerge in the passing game in addition to Dez Bryant and Witten and Miles Austin, it can be tricky to get everyone involved. That doesn't leave many opportunities in the passing game for Escobar.
"That's been a challenge, and we have to figure out a way to get him out there and give him some chances, because I think he's worthy of a chance based on what he's done so far," Garrett said.
But his opportunities have actually diminished in recent weeks. After getting on the field for 17 snaps against the Broncos in Week 5 and playing on at least 15 offensive snaps per game in four of the first five games, Escobar's been on the field for fewer than 10 offensive snaps in four of his past five games.
A lot of that has to do with his blocking ability. Garrett said it's not too elementary of a concept for teams to think that when Escobar's in the game, the Cowboys will be throwing. He said teams can evaluate that way if there's an overwhelming passing tendency when a certain player's in the game.
"Certain blocking assignments we wouldn't put him in, just some of the things he's not that experienced doing and don't suit his physical traits," Garrett said. "But hopefully he'll grow into those roles. Some of the other blocking parts I think he's certainly capable of. He had a couple good blocks in the game the other night."
Garrett still maintains that Escobar needs to be utilized more and that he can eventually become a mainstay in the offense. He said this summer will be particularly essential for Escobar's growth.
"We felt like he's big enough and long enough and had enough snap that he can grow into a Y tight end, because he has length and he has some of those traits that you need," Garrett said. "He just needs to get stronger. That's something we think we can control. We might put 10 pounds on him without even knowing it, him going through a comprehensive offseason program."