SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20: Gavin Escobar #88 of the San Diego State Aztecs runs with the ball in the first half of the game against the BYU Cougars in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 20, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar left school early after finishing with 42 receptions, 543 yards, and six touchdowns in 2012. Those numbers were down from the 51/780/7 line he posted in 2011.
At 6-6, 254 pounds, Escobar is a pass-catching tight end who can line up all over the field. He’s got excellent balance and body control, running downfield like a receiver and plucking the ball out of the air. Escobar’s ball skills are excellent, giving him the ability to win in jump-ball situations, especially near the goal line.
Escobar ran a 4.84 40-yard dash at the Combine, so he’s not regularly going to run past defenders. He’s a quick player who gets in and out of his breaks precisely, running great routes to get open. Once he gets his hands on the ball, Escobar is a threat after the catch.
The problem is that Escobar doesn’t offer much in the running game. He’s not particularly stout at the point and he needs to add strength. Escobar isn’t an unwilling blocker, but he fails to sustain blocks for the period of time he’d need to in the NFL. He tends to reach out at defenders instead of engaging and driving through them. He’s a hybrid player who can cause mismatches in the passing game, but he needs to work on his blocking so that he can take advantage of defense’s heavy personnel.
NFL Comparison: Dennis Pitta
Escobar is an unpolished version of Pitta with better length. I don’t think Escobar will ever be a Jimmy Graham-type player, but he can develop as a blocker and provide solid contributions as a receiver.
A decade ago, Escobar might have been a fourth or fifth-round pick. Now, teams are desperate for pass-catching tight ends who can create matchup problems for defenses. Escobar could get selected as high as the second round, although the third seems like a likely landing spot.
Fit In Dallas
I really think the Cowboys will be in the market for a tight end, but not in the second round. Escobar could interest them in the third, but only if they’re searching for another pass-catcher, which isn’t likely. They already have that player in James Hanna. Instead, they’ll probably be searching for a potential replacement for Jason Witten when they do scoop up a tight end—one who can block as well as he can catch.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.