(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 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features tight end Gavin Escobar.)
Name: Gavin Escobar
Position: Tight End
Height/Weight:6-6 / 260
Experience: 3 seasons
College: San Diego State
Key stat: Escobar essentially split playing time with fellow reserve tight end James Hanna in 2015 (231 snaps to Hanna's 222 in 14 games), with Escobar catching eight passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He has 26 catches in his career.
Contract Status: Signed through 2017.
2015 Impact: If there is a player on this roster that appears to be stuck in neutral, it's Gavin Escobar. Escobar is the one player that everyone from the front office to the coaching staff knows that he needs to be more involved one way or another. They've worked with him to become a more complete tight end and not just a big wide receiver. He has been praised for his efforts for improving his toughness as a point of attack blocker but in reality James Hanna is the one that they go with. There are situations where it appears forced in the way that Escobar is used, especially down in the red zone with the fades they set up for him. I can tell you how many times I have looked at a formation pre-snap and knew the ball was going his way. The thing that bothered me the most about this was always the same result - never a finish to the play. I believe you can include Escobar in the list of offensive players that missed Tony Romo in the lineup. The one thing you could count on was Romo and Escobar hooking up on an extended play for a first down or touchdown. The other quarterbacks in the lineup just weren't able to make that happen, so his impact was lost that way.
Where He Fits: With the injury to his Achilles, Gavin Escobar's season is likely done before it even gets started and then a decision will have to be made where they go in 2017. In looking back on his career I never have blamed him for his situation. He was drafted to be a "12" personnel tight end and the offense is more productive in "11". To me he is just like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne - a vision for a player in a certain scheme, then that scheme changes. Not his fault but that of others. Gavin Escobar is a good player, but where he was selected in the draft we expected great and that is all we will remember.
Rob Phillips: So unfortunate to see Escobar tear his Achilles tendon, and worse, it happening so late in the season (Week 15 against the Jets). Escobar is in good hands with the Cowboys' medical and athletic training staff, but it remains to be seen what his impact could be in 2016 with months of rehab ahead. The Cowboys will need a backup plan at tight end behind Jason Witten. James Hanna is currently set to be a free agent, and Geoff Swaim will be entering his second season with the club. As Bryan said, the talent is there for Escobar, but he hasn't had the type of two-tight end role many envisioned when the Cowboys drafted him in the second round in 2013. The offense likes to go three-wide much of the time, and Hanna's blocking has kept him on the field in multi-tight end sets.