Dallas Cowboys: Is Gavin Escobar poised for a breakout year?


Even though longtime Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is still very productive and will be 33 years old when the 2015 season begins, should the Dallas Cowboys be thinking about a Plan B when it comes to the position?

I ask that because the Cowboys have a tight end on their roster in Gavin Escobar who has untapped potential, and none of us really knows what he can bring in the future as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Escobar will be entering his third season with the Cowboys, and standing at 6-6 and weighing 260 pounds, the 24-year-old from San Diego State University could become the “real deal,” but when should it become his time to see what he can really do?

Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) in pre game warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I wrote that he is still a very important part of the Cowboys’ offense, even going so far as to predict he’ll have another 1,000-yard season in 2015.

Just like his counterpart on the Cowboys, Escobar is a reliable player, not missing a game in his two seasons as a professional. Escobar has just one start in that span, but with just 18 career receptions (239 yards), he is a red zone threat with six career touchdowns.

Last season, Escobar (a former second-round selection) had nine receptions for 105 yards, with his longest reception being 26 yards. His rookie season of 2013 saw him also have nine receptions for 134 yards, with a season-long reception of 25 yards.

In continuing to look at his ’14 season, Escobar’s best game was Week 7 against the New York Giants, where he finished with three receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

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That aforementioned performance, I believe, shows the untapped potential of Escobar.

Looking back to when he was drafted in ’13, a DallasCowboys.com draft profile speaks highly of the tight end.

Though there is no writer listed, the article says of Escobar:

"“Possibly one of the best-kept secrets in the draft, this highly effective pass catcher continues the trend of tough, athletic tight ends joining the pro ranks. Escobar might be the next multi-sport athlete to make an impact on the gridiron.”"

Those words right there still ring true to a point for Escobar, as he might be the “best-kept secret” reserve tight ends in the NFL. There is no doubt in my mind he could be a starter on some teams in the NFL, but with the Cowboys keeping him hidden, maybe this is the season he can possibly get more snaps and provide more production.

But we also have to ask ourselves why doesn’t he get more chances to succeed in the offense?

Keeping Witten fresh will be an important aspect of this Cowboys season, so having a 24-year-old backup with the potential to provide production could be what the Cowboys ordered.

Maybe I’m wrong on saying Escobar has a lot left to offer the Cowboys.

Rick Gosselin of DallasNews.com wrote this past season how Escobar looked like a wasted pick for the Cowboys:

"“It’s clear the Cowboys have never had a plan for Escobar. Either the scouting staff whiffed on him when it was building the 2013 draft board, or the coaching staff has whiffed on Escobar in his development.”"

I can see his point as well, and Mr. Gosselin has watched a lot more football in his lifetime than I have, so he does get the benefit of a doubt.

When that above article was written this past November, Escobar was two weeks removed from the aforementioned 65-yard, two-touchdown game. After that game, Escobar in the next 11 games (including the NFC playoffs) had just two more receptions the rest of the way, one against the Jacksonville Jaguars and one on Dec. 4 against the Chicago Bears for a six-yard touchdown.

The final five games of the season (including playoffs), the Cowboys never even targeted him.

Even after looking at both sides of this debate, I still believe the Cowboys need to really give Escobar more opportunities to make an impact for the team. He could be a very valuable piece of the Cowboys offense, and how can they know exactly what type of game day player he can be if they don’t throw him the football?

The Cowboys have missed before when it comes to drafting a backup or second tight end to compliment Witten, and with Escobar being a former second-round choice, the team really needs to see just how good of a football player they have in Escobar. If they don’t, the Cowboys are not only doing a disservice to him, but to the organization. Maybe he could be the next breakout player, or maybe he’s a bust.

There is only one way to find out, and it will take more than targeting the third-year tight end 10 times in a single season. It is time to target Escobar a little more and see what takes place.

Next: Are Marcus Peters's past transgressions an issue?

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