San Diego State's Gavin Escobar is a new-wave tight end. And his combination of speed, size and sure hands make him a sought-after NFL draft prospect.
A potent vertical threat, the 6'6", 254-pound target racked up 122 receptions for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns over three years with the Aztecs. The redshirt junior's standout play has put him in position to be a Day 2 draft selection.
Measurables have their use, but what puts a prospect on the map is the tale of the tape.
For that, let's take a look at some of Escobar's top plays from his time at San Diego State.
Escobar's dynamic playing style was on display versus Washington State as a redshirt sophomore in 2011.
In the third quarter of action, No. 88 was lined up as the H-back. He went in motion from the right to left side of the O-line, then ran out to the flat.
From there, he proceeded to turn his head and run down the sideline on a wheel route. By the time former Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley targeted him, it was an easy touchdown.
Escobar can make the game a chess match with his versatility. This play exemplified just that.
However, this was not the only big play Escobar made versus the Cougars a year-and-a-half ago.
A quarter after beating the Cougars defense on a wheel route for a touchdown, Escobar was at it again. But this time, he was lined up in the slot.
Escobar ran out and up the sideline, creating a difficult matchup for the defensive back covering him. He used his long and athletic body to leap up and make the catch in the end zone, capping off his strong performance.
He finished the game with a total of four grabs for 58 yards. This was Escobar's first multi-touchdown game of his Aztecs career.
On Sept. 24, 2011 versus Michigan, Escobar showed the country that he had some top-notch hands.
Lining up in the slot, Escobar ran down the seam and exploited the two-high safety defense. As he adjusted back to the thrown ball, a Michigan linebacker turned his head to look back at Escobar. That split second was all it took for Escobar to reach around for the catch.
The ball bobbled momentarily, but Escobar held on despite getting sandwiched between two Wolverines.
It was one of those double-take moments for the tight end. It was also one of the lone bright spots for San Diego State in that game, as the Aztecs went on to lose, 28-7.
Less than two minutes into the first quarter, Ryan Lindley hit Escobar down the seam on what would be a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Escobar ran hard to the end zone, where he was dragged down just after crossing the plane. Aside from the TD, Escobar also managed to finish the game with a total of four grabs for 95 yards.
His potency in the slot paid dividends for the Aztecs time and time again. It should make him a tough cover in the NFL as well.
When Escobar is lined up next to the offensive tackle, he can drop out to the flat largely unnoticed.
He did just that against Boise State on Nov. 3.
On a play-action bootleg to the right, Escobar stayed in to block the pass-rusher for a moment. And that moment was all it took for the defense to lose focus on him.
Escobar meandered to the numbers and hauled in a pass from quarterback Adam Dingwell. He turned upfield to see open space, collecting a first down due to his excellent vision, quickness and patience behind his blocks.
Although this wasn't a touchdown grab, it shows just how multifaceted a tight end Escobar is. His effectiveness in the screen game only adds to his worth.
Escobar helped put the finishing touches on San Diego State's Oct. 20 overtime win over Nevada.
The Wolf Pack harnessed a 38-31 overtime lead, but Escobar's 21-yard touchdown catch on a play-action fake from Adam Dingwell put the Aztecs back in it, 38-37.
After a successful two-point conversion, the game was over.
Escobar's touchdown took a lot more than just some dependable hands, though. The rangy tight end had to shift gears, evade multiple tackles, leap past a defender and pull himself into the end zone with arms wrapped around his legs.
In a losing effort against San Jose State on Sept. 22, Escobar still made his presence felt.
Down in the red zone, Aztecs QB Ryan Katz found his tight end in the back of the end zone on 4th-and-goal. Escobar managed to get both feet down—even though he only needed one—for the score.
Escobar's ability to make critical catches with little room to work with is an unteachable trait. His knack for the end zone should bode well for him at the next level.
After all, he's got the size and athleticism to make difficult catches look quite easy.