Could the Cowboys draft another second round tight end?

Jun 17, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight ends Jason Witten (82) Gavin Escobar (89) James Hanna (84) and Jordan Najvar (87) during minicamp at Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight ends Jason Witten (82) Gavin Escobar (89) James Hanna (84) and Jordan Najvar (87) during minicamp at Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

After the failure that was Gavin Escobar in 2013, would the Dallas Cowboys actually draft another tight end in the second round come April?

The Dallas Cowboys shocked both media members and fans during the 2013 NFL Draft when they elected to use their second round pick to select tight end Gavin Escobar out of San Diego State. With a future Hall of Famer in his prime in Jason Witten already on the roster, the tight end position wasn’t deemed to be a very big need three years ago.

Ever since, Escobar’s performance has been graded against his draft status. Recording a total of 26 receptions for 303 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three seasons hasn’t aided his popularity among fans either. The 25-year old tight end is in the final year of his rookie deal and is not expected to be re-signed at seasons’ end.

Still, would Escobar’s failure in Dallas stop the Cowboys from drafting a tight end high this season? One longtime Cowboys columnist doesn’t think it should. In fact, he thinks the Cowboys should take the top tight end in this draft class.

"“Draft Hunter Henry — Trust me, this is one suggestion Jerry [Jones] might actually take. Arkansas’ tight end, No. 1 at his position, is a Jason Witten starter kit, which is good, because the original is just about worn out. Without his buddy throwing him the football, Witten’s production dropped steeply this season,”wrote Dallas Morning News staff columnist Kevin Sherrington last month. “When Romo’s around, Witten’s still pretty good because of their chemistry. But how much will Romo be around next season? Better point: The Cowboys need all the explosive plays they can get from a receiving corps that, behind Dez Bryant, isn’t very dynamic.”"

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First, let’s establish if the Cowboys even have a need at the tight end position. At age 33, Witten led Dallas in targets (104) and receptions (77) last season. Although he’s certainly a lot slower than he’s ever been, the wily veteran still has a knack for getting open when he needs to. And I’m not sure Witten has any plans to hang up his cleats any time soon.

Escobar had another underwhelming season in Dallas, recording only eight total catches in 2015. To add insult to literally injury, the former second round disappointment tore his right Achilles’ tendon at the end of the year. And Escobar’s estimated rehabilitation time needed to recover from that injury will likely put him on the PUP list past the start of next season.

At the end of the bench are veteran James Hanna and rookie Geoff Swaim. Hanna is a free agent this offseason and it’s unknown if the Cowboys will elect to re-sign him. Although the injury to Escobar may force the team to do so.

As for Swaim, the seventh rounder out of Texas impressed as a recevier last offseason. Unfortunately, the Cowboys drafted him as more of a blocking tight end which was what he did for the Longhorns. Swaim will once again need to prove he belongs on the active roster over the summer.

So, we’ve established there could be a need at the tight end position in Dallas. But is Henry worthy of a second round pick, which is where Dallas would likely have to draft him. The 6-5, 253 pound prospect out of Arkansas is the number one rated player at his position in this draft class. That’s mainly due to the fact he’s the best recevier out of the bunch, displaying excellent hands and consistent route running.

Henry recorded 51 catches, 739 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games for the Razorbacks last year. More impressive than that is the fact that the young tight end didn’t drop a single pass all of last season. Although Henry’s a high-effort player, his blocking skills are suspect. That is his biggest knock going into the draft.

Still, the impact of tight ends like New England’s Rob Gronkowski and a pre-Seattle Jimmy Graham have made the position a bigger offensive threat in the NFL than ever before. So getting a quality player at that spot is more important than ever. But in the wake of Escobar’s failure in Dallas, plus numerous other Cowboy prospects that have wilted away under Witten’s considerable shadow only to find success on other teams, I’m not sure if now is the time to draft another tight end that high.

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