Gavin Escobar is a bust. Not in the sense that he isn’t talented because he is. He is a huge target if used correctly. Recently I have noticed a trend of players that haven’t been utilized correctly or at all. The first name on this list would be Gio Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals who had a coming out party last Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins. His second touchdown run was one for the ages.
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Others that you could add to that list would Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington and Gavin Escobar. Players who very highly touted coming out of college but for some reason are underutilized.
Escobar’s biggest problem is his limited playing opportunity. However, when you look at how often he is on the field you would think that he gets plenty of playing time. Out of the Cowboys 548 offensive snaps this year, Escobar has been on the field for 123 of them. That means he is on the field for roughly a fifth of their plays (22 %). He is also a big contributor on special teams playing on 58 special teams’ snaps. Escobar should be a huge target for this offense at 6’5” and 251 pounds. Roughly the same size as Jason Witten, although Escobar has a speed advantage in that department. He should be getting up the seam and challenging safety and linebackers at will.
When you look at his number of snaps the next question should be how many times is he targeted during those plays? The answer is very few. Nine games into the season Escobar has four receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown. He has been targeted a total of nine times in that stretch. Let me repeat myself nine! In four of the Cowboys nine games he hasn’t been looked at period. Those games were San Diego, Washington, Detroit and Minnesota. Dallas is 2-2 in those games, so there is no correlation between his targets and how the team succeeds.
In the first five weeks he was the target of a Tony Romo pass eight times. It would seem that since that drive against Denver when Romo threw the game clinching interception, that either Callahan, Garrett or Romo don’t have any trust in him. Which while I can understand that, it seems ridiculous that you wouldn’t go to a guy you spent a second round selection on. James Hanna doesn’t seem to have much better numbers.
What that could mean is outside of Jason Witten, neither coaches or Romo have any faith in a tight end. This season Hanna has played in 183 snaps which is roughly a third of their offensive snaps. On those snaps he has been targeted 10 times for eight receptions and 56 yards and no scores. Neither tight end gives them a legitimate option if Witten goes down.
The bigger question is what was Cowboys ownership and War Room trying to do when they selected Escobar with the second overall selection? There were many other options to try and help this team compete. Le’Veon Bell of Michigan State was selected on the very next pick and he could have helped this team in the run game with the annual issues with DeMarco Murray. The following pick was Johnathan Hankins of Ohio State could have been a target with the questions surrounding Jay Ratliff. One last selection to note here is the third round pick by the Detroit Lions with Larry Warford of Kentucky. He could have help bolster this lackluster guard tandem or even provided depth with Brian Waters.
Jerry Jones really made a bad call taking Escobar in the second with so many other needs on this team. Whether it was a pick and stash move by the team for the eventual departure of Jason Witten or an attempt at the two tight end offense this staff is fascinated by, Dallas sure picked a bad time to try it.