When the Dallas Cowboys selected Gavin Escobar in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, it probably raised more eyebrows than the selection of Travis Frederick. A pass-catching tight end in the second-round? Why? Doesn't the brain trust realize that there are other needs?
All are very valid questions, but they all have one common denominator when it comes to the answer, and that is Jerry Jones' vision. Yes, Jones' obsession and determination to replicate what the New England Patriots have accomplished has now become his personal mission.
The idea of more 12-personnel formations would be beneficial for this offense on many levels, but have the Cowboys found that second tight end to make it a reality? During the Bill Parcells era, it was believed that Anthony Fasano would be the player capable of stressing defenses so that Terrell Owens and the other offensive weapons would gain more opportunities.
Fasano eventually was dealt to the Dolphins after only a handful of seasons in Dallas, and that second-round experiment can effectively be deemed a failure. Next, enter Martellus Bennett and his big 6'7" frame that simply enamored Jones. The Cowboys wasted no time selecting him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and I think we all know how his tenure went.
Part of the failure of these two players might just lie in the fact that they were under-utilized, not properly developed and the coaching staff may have simply botched the opportunities. I feel strongly about this, more in regard to Bennett based on his sheer size alone and what appeared to be a big upside.
But Bennett failed to show any consistency, failed at any natural progression as a player and was on another planet mentally. He should have taken the opportunity to learn the game and how to be a professional from Jason Witten a little more seriously rather than viewing it as an impediment.
So, this brings us to Escobar and his outstanding abilities as a pass-catching threat and his unbelievable hands. It's time to forget about his draft status and shift the focus on the results he produced in college and how we envision his role in this offense.
Could the third time be the charm regarding the tight end position? Escobar might just be the answer and for very good reason. On the surface, you have to start with his 6'6", 255 pound frame. He will need to add some mass to his build, but what 22-year-old football player doesn't?
When you watch the tape, you see his speed, hands of glue, solid route-running and his ability to create mismatches. Do you cover him with a linebacker? A safety? A corner? All of those questions look like realities that opposing defensive coordinators will have to face this season.
But all of that requires Escobar to create the situation and the need for concern.
Ultimately, Escobar's role in this offense figures to be a prominent one, and the Cowboys are making no mistakes about that. Maybe, just maybe, the Cowboys have found the right player to make this dimension of their offense come to life.
It will take some pressure off of Witten, open up running lanes and force defenses to play more nickel packages. If Escobar can embrace his role and his expectations, then this offense could be headed for great things.
And maybe the third time just might be the charm.
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