This was supposed to be Martellus Bennett's role with the Dallas Cowboys; help usher in a new era of Cowboys tight ends, while easing out Jason Witten's best years. I'm not sure what's more surprising; that Witten's still playing his best football or that Bennett ended up being such a bust in Dallas?
The answer matters very little now because the Cowboys drafted tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He is the third tight end the Cowboys have drafted in the second round in the past seven years and fans are hoping he will break the chain of busts at the position. First came Anthony Fasano, then Bennett and now comes Escobar, the most naturally gifted receiver out of the three.
There's a reason it's important I described Escobar as a natural receiver, because when the Cowboys drafted Fasano and Bennett, the hope was they'd compliment Jason Witten. Now, with the way the NFL has changed, big, athletic pass catching tight ends are all the rage. As good as Witten is, he's not the most athletic player at the position and Dallas now has that in Escobar. Read any scouting report on Escobar and you'll understand what the Cowboys are doing by pairing Witten with Escobar.
“Natural pass-catcher with excellent hand-eye coordination and rare body control for a man of his size. Shows the ability to leap and contort in the air to adjust to the ball, making him an effective jump-ball candidate…he could quickly emerge as a dangerous weapon.”
That was CBSsports.com's breakdown on Escobar and most draft reports said the same; Escobar is a big target, with outstanding hands. He's in the mold of the new NFL where they use the size, athleticism and receiving ability of a tight end to create miss-matches for the defenses. Think of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski and then you have an idea of what the Cowboys want to do with Escobar.
I'm not saying Escobar will be as good as Gronk or Graham but that's the vision for the Cowboys and their offense. Don't get me wrong, they may have tried to do something similar with Martellus Bennett, but he was used much more as a blocker and he never caught on in the passing game. Just a few years ago these types of offenses didn't exist in the NFL, so Dallas never got the opportunity to showcase Bennett like they had intended.
Times have changed and the Cowboys are evolving with the times. No longer will they be using a second tight end as a blocker; he'll now be used much more as a receiver. That matches up perfectly with what Escobar does well.
The Dallas Cowboys are ready to attack with a new offense and it will start with more two tight end sets, attacking the defense. On one side will be Jason Witten, one of the game's best, and on the other side will be Gavin Escobar, a rookie who should make an impact on the offense right away.