Throughout the year, Washington‘s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and North Carolina‘s Eric Ebron have widely been considered the top tight end prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft. With the high level of success that he’s been able to maintain throughout the 2013 season, however, Texas Tech junior Jace Amaro has forced his way into the conversation. From a statistical standpoint, Amaro has been far and away the best pass-catching tight end in college football this year, but after watching his tape, it’s clear that he has a ways to go if he wants to be the most complete tight end in the draft.
One of the big concerns for Amaro will likely be that he has limited experience playing the traditional tight end position. Amaro is used almost exclusively as a slot receiver at Texas Tech, only lining up with his hand in the dirt for a few short-yardage packages. Because of this, it’s somewhat difficult to gauge his effectiveness when it comes to in-line blocking and getting a good jump after the snap.
Amaro has been able to make his mark as a receiving threat, however. With good quickness and great size, he’s a matchup nightmare, and he’s a serious threat to make big catches in the middle of the field. He’s very aggressive after the catch and will use his physicality to fight for extra yards.
There are some serious concerns about Amaro’s receiving game too, though. Most importantly, he seems to struggle significantly with making catches when defenders press up on him. TCU cornerback Jason Verrett was consistently able to expose Amaro in this fashion. In addition, he needs to expand beyond being simply a possession receiver if he wants to be elite. His breakaway speed is nowhere near that of someone like Ebron’s, and he hasn’t been able to get into the open field much.
Amaro has said on multiple occasions that he plans on staying in school for his senior season, which isn’t the worst decision in the world considering that he had started only six games prior to this season. It’s worth noting that in a tweet posted before the Red Raiders’ Senior Day, Amaro said, “if you have no other reason to go out to this game, come for our seniors. Who knows, it might be my last game at the Jones too.” It’s more likely than not that Amaro will stay in school in 2014, but if he ultimately decides to enter the draft, he’d be taking a calculated risk. Though a strong combine performance, he might be able to work his way into the first round. But he’d also run the risk of going in the second or third round, which would be disappointing since he has such a strong opportunity to grow as a player and improve his stock before the 2015 draft. Ultimately, it would be smartest for Amaro to come back for his senior year and hope that he is the first tight end taken in 2015.
- Capable of stretching to make catches over the middle, which is where he delivers his greatest impact
- Huge and exceptionally physical
- Runs routes quickly and has no trouble getting to balls that are thrown his way
- Ability to make cuts and get open has improved over 2013 season
- Has the potential to be a great run blocker
- Extremely inconsistent as a receiver when he gets pressed by defensive backs
- Doesn’t have much breakaway speed and looks uncomfortable once he gets into the open field
- Very little experience lining up in a three-point stance
- Though he delivers some impact blocks, is inconsistent with his blocking and whiffs too often
- Considering his size and level of tenacity, should be a better red zone target
- Some character concerns could arise from a March 2012 incident in which he was accused of illegally purchasing alcoholic drinks on a teammate’s credit card and attempting to tip off the bartender to stay quiet
Statistically, Amaro has been by far the best receiving tight end of any player in the FBS this year, as he has 88 catches for 1102 yards, which is 412 yards more than the next tight end has. Granted, Amaro has a huge advantage due to the fact that he’s a glorified receiver, lining up in the slot on the high majority of his plays, and the Red Raiders don’t necessarily face the best competition, but it’s an impressive accomplishment for Amaro nonetheless. It’s somewhat disappointing that with all the receiving opportunities that he’s had, Amaro only has four touchdowns, but the junior should be able to rest secure in the fact that he’ll be the nation’s leading receiving tight end when the season comes to an end.
2014 Draft Projection: Third Round