It’s hard to believe tight end Gavin Escobar had only one scholarship offer coming out of high school.
Considered only a two-star recruit by Rivals.com from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., he accepted a football scholarship from San Diego State University, where he was named to the All-Mountain West Conference First Team in his final two seasons with the Aztecs.
Now Escobar is at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. along with 332 other college football players hoping to make an impression on NFL head coaches and general managers before April’s NFL Draft.Photo Gallery: Tight Ends at the Combine | More Photos
Saturday marked the day for on-field workouts for 19 tight ends. Coming into the Combine, Escobar was rated the No. 3 tight end by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, behind Notre Dame University’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford University’s Zach Ertz. The threesome has gone on to be nicknamed the “Killer E’s” by several analysts.
Though Eifert arguably performed the best of the trio in the measurable drills, Escobar reaffirmed his spot among the top three tight ends available in the draft.
“Watching him catch a football is like ballet,” Mayock said.
In the receiving drills, Escobar performed admirably, showing off his strong hands by grabbing the ball out of the air with ease away from his body.
Escobar did, however, struggle during the 40-yard dash, posting a time of 4.84 seconds, good enough for 11th among the tight ends. Mayock said the slow time will compel NFL head coaches and general managers to re-evaluate his game tape.
Although head coaches and general managers speak highly of his catching ability and potential, Escobar’s run-blocking and tentativeness on first contact have raised concerns. Still, Escobar’s playmaking ability and comfort in between the linebackers and secondary should be enough for him to be taken within the first three rounds.
“I think I showed my ability to catch the ball, body control, run smooth, crisp routes and just show my ability to run after the catch as well,” Escobar said.
With the NFL evolving into a pass-first league and the tight end becoming a key ingredient in that change, Escobar believes his abilities and body frame fit what is required of today’s tight end.
“I feel like I fit that new evolving tight end position,” Escobar said. “I’m tall, I have good range and I can spread the field and go and catch the ball pretty well.”
Escobar, who led the team with 42 receptions for 543 yards and six touchdowns in his final season with the Aztecs, will return to San Diego to continue training and taking classes toward a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration after preparing for the Combine at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
After Saturday’s workout, Escobar spoke confidently of his performance against the other tight end prospects.
“In my mind, I think I’m the best,” Escobar said. “I think I solidified that I can catch the ball well and good body control. I think I proved my athleticism out here today.”