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Thursday, January 23, 2014
Young Guns: Gavin Escobar

By Calvin Watkins

Since 2010 the Dallas Cowboys have done a better job of finding talent. As a core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and Doug Free inch closer to the end of their careers, the Cowboys need a group of young players heading into their primes to take ownership of the team. Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer analyze those players from the class of 2010 on.

Escobar
If you want to talk about a disappointing draft pick from the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 class, this was it. Gavin Escobar was drafted in the second round and presented as someone the Cowboys would pair with Witten in a two-tight end set.

Escobar's problems were he wasn't strong enough, he had a thin frame on his 249 pounds, so blocking pass-rushers was difficult. Maybe more importantly, the Cowboys didn't employ the two-tight-end set with Escobar. Instead, James Hanna was used more than Escobar in the two-tight-end set.

Escobar finished the season with nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. But his touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular-season finale where he flipped into the end zone, showed the Cowboys they had an athletic player who needed a chance to participate.

The Cowboys are not preparing for the end of Witten's career, but at some point the veteran will retire, and this is where Escobar comes in. Escobar has to get more playing time in 2014, and become that pass-catching tight end who plays consistently, to justify the second-round selection.

A lot of this isn't Escobar's fault, the team moved down in the draft, bypassing the best tight end -- Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert (drafted by Cincinnati) -- to get a quality center who might have been grabbed in the second round. Escobar might have fallen to the third round, and maybe the Cowboys could have grabbed a defensive lineman, something the team desperately needed, in the second round.

But Escobar, 22, is a young player who has a future, if the Cowboys use him.