The Aztec Emperor: The Rise of Gavin Escobar
By Shawn Gallagher – DFW Writer
College football season has passed, and NFL Teams and dynasty owners are knee deep in the talent evaluation process, as we just witnessed events like the NFL combine, and literally thousands of draft related articles are currently being written during this process. NFL draft fans are getting reacquainted with draft gurus such as Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock these next few months. In dynasty leagues, excited owners get a chance to help improve and build their own dynasties with rookie drafts that are often held right after the conclusion of the NFL draft. In today’s column we highlight one of the fastest rising Tight End prospects in the NFL draft in Gavin Escobar. The former San Diego State Tight End has been rather impressive as of late during the pre-draft process, and could end up being a quality Tight End for an NFL team, and more importantly your Dynasty league team.
Gavin Escobar only received one scholarship offer after coming out of a smaller high school in California, as at the time, Escobar was only seen as a two-star Tight End prospect. Luckily San Diego State and then Head Coach Brady Hoke saw some potential in Escobar and decided to give him a scholarship offer to go to the Aztecs. While at San Diego State, Gavin Escobar had a nose for the end zone, totaling 17 Touchdowns in his 3 seasons at San Diego State, and led the team in receiving in 2012, compiling 42 receptions and 519 yards receiving on the season. San Diego State has had moderate success in recent years thanks in part to Gavin Escobar of course, with the unfortunate downside being that their very successful Head Coach in Brady Hoke, left for a higher profile Head Coaching job at Michigan, and San Diego State in general has to compete with several higher profile college football schools just in the state of California. After playing at a lower profile school with moderate success, it’s a bit difficult for Gavin Escobar to really gain the attention that fellow draft prospect Tight Ends Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz have been receiving, considering that Eifert and Ertz both went to schools with more national exposure. Here is a good highlight clip of Escobar from the past year, in which he shows flashes of NFL potential and big playmaking ability.
Gavin Escobar has the size you want to see from an NFL Tight End, as he stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs just over 250 pounds. Escobar’s large frame, long arms, and tall physique make him a natural NFL Tight End with really high upside.
In addition to a strong physical profile mentioned in the previous paragraph, Gavin Escobar has excellent hands and pass- catching skills. Scouts have been very impressed with the idea that Escobar catches just about everything thrown in his vicinity, especially when he gets closer to the end zone. Escobar has some experience playing wide receiver in addition to Tight End, and has been known to have very crisp route running. Escobar’s hybrid Tight End/Wide Receiver role will certainly serve him well with the way the Tight End position is evolving in the NFL to these hybrid types. Here is a video of Escobar showing a 2012 game against Boise State, and really showcases the versatility and unique talent that Gavin Escobar possesses.
In the recent NFL combine, Gavin Escobar didn’t register the fastest 40 yard dash times, and in general Escobar does not have elite speed for a Tight End. I certainly wouldn’t call Escobar “slow” by any means, but average speed sounds pretty accurate. Blocking isn’t something Escobar focused too much on during his college career, so there is certainly room for improvement in that category. While fantasy owners aren’t concerned about his blocking skills, it is important to remember that poor blocking skills can sometimes cost a good Tight End playing time, and certain NFL coaches are much bigger into blocking Tight Ends than others are. Escobar could probably bulk up a little bit to help improve those blocking skills, as he needs to be seen as a bit more than just a strong receiving Tight End in the NFL.
NFL Draft Outlook
Gavin Escobar’s stock has gone up recently in draft circles, although right now I’d project him as probably the 3rd Tight End taken in this draft behind Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford’s Zack Ertz. A 3rd round draft projection seems pretty accurate for Escobar, with the possibility of rising a bit higher than that between now and draft weekend. With the NFL’s increase in emphasis on hybrid receiving Tight Ends, the stock in someone like Gavin Escobar certainly could continue to rise in the next few months.
I’d expect Gavin Escobar to come at a very reasonable price in dynasty rookie drafts this year, with owners likely being able to acquire him in the 3rd round of rookie drafts, and not anywhere before the late 2nd round in all likelihood. It is important to remember that the Tight End position in dynasty leagues can often be very unpredictable, as the fate of Tight Ends are often heavily influenced by team offensive strategy and quarterback situation. What Gavin Escobar has going for him here is that he has tremendous hands, route running ability, and a strong red zone presence that could end up being a best friend to any quarterback, and especially a young or inexperienced quarterback in need of a reliable weapon. Some scouts have claimed that they’ve seen flashes of Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski in Escobar, and while those are lofty comparisons, it is important to remember that elite Tight Ends aren’t always household names when they are drafted, and Gavin Escobar of the San Diego State Aztecs, has still been flying under the radar. Take a chance on him later on in your rookie draft, and you just may have found yourself the next breakout NFL Tight End.