With Finley entering his final season under contract and the Packers' potential cap troubles with big paydays coming to Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, numerous sources have told Packer Report that the Packers are taking an extensive look at this year's crop of tight ends. With Green Bay picking at No. 26 in the first round, Tyler Eifert almost certainly will be off the board but as many as nine tight ends could go in the first four rounds, according to sources.
"Ertz isn't as good as (former teammate Coby) Fleener and I didn't like Fleener," a scout said.
Escobar might not have the name recognition, having attended San Diego State rather than Notre Dame (Eifert) or Stanford (Ertz). Escobar's resume and upside, however, make him a solid second-round prospect.
Escobar, a junior entry who interviewed with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, caught 51 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011 and 42 passes for 543 yards and six touchdowns in 2012. He's a big man with big hands and footwork groomed on the basketball court.
"Watching him catch a football is like ballet," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said during the Combine.
This past season, Escobar was the standout of a passing game that ranked 103rd out of 120 major-college schools after Ryan Lindley went to the NFL. He caught 63.6 percent of the passes thrown his way (compared to 55.5 percent for the rest of the team) and didn't drop a pass all season.
"The feedback I've been getting from most teams is they like my pass catching ability," he said at the Combine. "They're a little concerned with the run game. I've been trying to tell them I'm willing to do that and I've been working hard at that, and over time I can only improve."
At the Scouting Combine, Escobar didn't blow away anyone by running a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash with a 32-inch vertical. He shined, however, in the other tests, finishing second in the three-cone drill and short shuttle.
"The thing that I like about him is he's got good leaping ability," said Dave-Te' Thomas, the NFL's longtime lead scout. "At tight end, I like athletes. At tight end, I like guys that were basketball players. At the end of the day, what's going to happen is most of the time you're going over the middle of the field. What's going to happen when you're going over the middle of the field? The quarterback's in a panic mode. So, if the quarterback goes to you, more than likely he's going to throw an off-target pass. This kid's got reachability, good timing. The thing I like about him is he's got those long arms and those big, spider fingers. If you look at this guy, man, his fingers are like spider legs."
The NFL Draft Report listed Escobar as the tight end with the highest upside of any player at his position in this draft, with Thomas saying Escobar has the potential to become the next Tony Gonzalez.
Escobar's height and hands make him an inviting target in the red zone or on third down. He lined up regularly in the slot this past season, which is a necessity to be the lead tight end in coach Mike McCarthy's offense.
"The way they use tight ends these days is really translating with my body frame and abilities, being able to be a red zone target and threat, being able to create mismatches," he said.
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