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)
The Cowboys’ selection of center Travis Frederick in the first round was surprising, but the team’s decision to draft tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round might have been even more shocking simply because tight end is considered a position of strength. In my original scouting report on Escobar, I wrote:
"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."
Well, I was wrong, huh? Escobar did indeed get drafted in the second round, and the ‘Boys were indeed interested. So how will Escobar fit in Dallas? I’ve spent some time reviewing his tape, stats, and measurables. Below, I’ve posted my scouting report on Escobar, plus a re-grade.
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.
What I Like
I really like Escobar’s ability to shield off defenders with his big body, and I think he can make an immediate impact for the Cowboys in the red zone. He’s got a long 6-6 frame with nearly 34-inch arms. Escobar also had a 13.9 percent touchdown in college, so we know he can get into the end zone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Escobar score five touchdowns as a rookie. He’s superior to Jason Witten as a red zone threat.
What I Don’t Like
Escobar needs to become a better blocker to really take advantage of defenses. That’s obvious. I also don’t like that Escobar failed to dominate at San Diego State. He never had more than 51 receptions or 780 yards in a season, and that was in 2011. Even though tight ends aren’t utilized as much in college, you always want to see small-school players dominate inferior competition.
Re-Grade: Early Third Round
My opinion on Escobar hasn’t changed; I think he’s a really talented pass-catcher who could develop into something special. He’s going to work hard and hopefully he can make himself into a decent blocker, but I wouldn’t have drafted him in the second round.
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.