OXNARD, Calif. – Gavin Escobar will probably never be a good blocker. The question is whether he can be a good enough blocker to get on the field.
Escobar remains behind James Hanna on the Cowboys’ tight end depth chart and his blocking deficiencies have been exposed in the first two preseason games. Escobar has the worst run-blocking grade of any player this preseason, according to ProFootballFocus.com’s data.
“I work on it every day and try to take pride in it,” Escobar said. “It’s definitely gotten better, but it’s always got to improve.”
The Cowboys knew Escobar, a part-time player as a sophomore at San Diego State because of his struggles as a blocker, would need time to develop in that facet of the game. They believed his potential as a pass-catcher justified using a second-round pick on him.
Second-round picks are expected to make an immediate impact, however. It’s hard to envision that happening for Escobar as a rookie if he can’t beat out Hanna.
"He’s developing. He really is," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s a natural pass-catcher. He can run routes and get away from people. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in games to do that up to this point. The thing where he’s getting better and better is blocking, both as a run blocker and as a pass protector.
“That’s not his strength coming into this thing, but he has the traits physically to be able to do that. He’s got to get stronger. He knows that; we know that. He just has to keep working at it. But one of the things I have been impressed with has been his nastiness and his toughness. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there in any facet of the game, and that’s a good sign."
The 6-foot-6, 249-pound Escobar isn’t going to get significantly stronger during the season. That’s the kind of development that comes during the offseason.
“It’s really all technique,” Escobar said. “You can move a guy that’s bigger than you or hold him up at least with the right technique. That’s what it’s all about, getting the right technique and footwork all the time and just being consistent with that.”