Why Green Bay Packers Absolutely Must Draft Gavin Escobar

Michael DulkaContributor IApril 5, 2013

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)
Kent Horner/Getty Images

When the NFL draft takes place later this month, the Green Bay Packers need to make sure they draft tight end Gavin Escobar.

With Jermichael Finley entering the last year of his current deal and unproven players behind him, the Packers could use a tight end to solidify the position. 

Entering the draft, Escobar is seen mostly as a third- or fourth-round pick, but some in the media view him as a second-round talent. If Escobar is still available during the middle of the third round, the Packers should make a move to lock him up.

Escobar was extremely dominant in his college career and posted his most-productive season during his sophomore year. During the 2011 season, he caught 51 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns in just 11 games. His almost unguardable combination of size and speed allowed him to get open in a number of ways.

Here are the highlights from his 2011 season:

During his junior season, Escobar saw more attention from defenders and consequent a dip in his production. He posted 42 catches for 543 yards and six touchdowns. 

Here are the highlights from his 2012 season:

While his stats paint a nice picture of the impact he can have on a game, Escobar's highlights show what will make him so valuable to the Packers' offense. At 6'6", 254 pounds, Escobar has ideal size to make him a nightmare matchup. 

He's extremely reliable as a pass-catcher and a solid route-runner. His strong hands allow him to make big plays and be the dependable target that a quarterback needs.

While Escobar isn't a great blocker, neither is Finley. Escobar has the size and frame to become a more-effective blocker with proper coaching. He also lacks agility that limits him from breaking tackles and getting extra yardage. 

One of the major reasons for grabbing Escobar in the draft would be to lessen the dependence on Finley. The Packers are in a position of paying their star tight end $8.25 million next season because they really don't have any other options. 

With the Packers likely giving Aaron Rodgers a hefty raise, they need to figure out ways to put talent around their franchise quarterback, but with cheap money. Grabbing a big potential tight end would be an extremely smart business move for general manager Ted Thompson and company. 

Back-up tight ends D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor have failed to break out and Andrew Quarless hasn't played since the 2011 season. At this point, the Packers are somewhat tied to Finley.

During the 2012 season, Packers' tight ends combined for a total of 938 yards. Finley accounted for 667 yards, or 71.1 percent, of the group's production. Tom Crabtree's 203 yards equate to 21.6 percent. With Crabtree off the team, the Packers need a tight end who can produce on a regular basis.

It would be ideal for the Packers to add another tight end that could potential give them a cheaper alternative to Finley. Escobar fits the bill, providing depth and potential star ability.

With Rodgers as his quarterback, Escobar would have a very bright future in the NFL.