Dallas Cowboys: 2014 Young Guns Series

Young Guns: Gavin Escobar

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
2:00
PM ET
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.

Young Guns: Bruce Carter

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
1:00
PM ET
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.

Carter
Carter
The Cowboys had high expectations for weakside linebacker Bruce Carter. He was going to excel in the new 4-3 scheme of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. The Cowboys wanted to use Carter's speed and athletic ability to make plays on the ball.

But Carter struggled badly. He was benched in the second half of the San Diego loss, lost his starting job to veteran Ernie Sims and has raised questions about his future.

Carter did finish the season third on the team with 96 tackles and did record five tackles for loss, but his stock is clearly down at Valley Ranch. If there was one thing the Cowboys thought they had in 2013, it was two young linebackers in Sean Lee and Carter to make plays.

Carter didn't perform well in pass coverage and voiced his displeasure at getting benched. He didn't make a scene but just wanted an explanation as to what was going on with his status on the field.

The Cowboys didn't need to explain what the problems was. It was evident. Carter just didn't make the plays necessary to stay on the field. He enters a contract year needing to bounce back in order for the Cowboys to think he has a future with the team.

Of course, the Cowboys can tender him after 2014, but that would be considered a disappointment considering how much they thought the second-round pick from North Carolina was supposed to ascend as one of their better young players.

Carter's future is in doubt. He's not a bust, because the Cowboys saw how well he played toward the end of the 2012 season with Lee out due to an injury.

The skill set the Cowboys have seen in Carter is there, he just needs to be consistent.

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