By Alex Kozora
With the regular season over, our focus has shifted to the offseason. For the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on prospects. Some the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at. Other top players that will be off the board before the Steelers select. All to make you as prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft as possible.
Today a look at our second tight end of the draft season. Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro.
Jace Amaro/TE Texas Tech: 6’5 260
– Big body with a lot of length, gives self big catch radius
– Red zone threat
– Size makes him tough to bring down, a challenge for defensive backs
– Smooth, fluid athlete
– Gets out of his breaks quickly, isn’t stiff for his size
– Above average speed in the open field
– Soft hands, isn’t a body catcher
– Tracks the ball well and can adjust to poorly thrown passes
– Works well against zone, sits down and shows his numbers
– Willing to go across the middle and take a shot
– Semi-willing blocker with strength to overpower DBs when locked on
– Fantastic final season, record-setting numbers with numerous accolades
– Not elite speed or athleticism, won’t blow by too many defenders
– Has trouble sticking to his blocks in the run/short pass game and seems to give up too easily
– Could stand to improve football IQ, be more aware of when he’s a hot read
– Needs to work to the QB on scramble drills, will get lazy
– Little experience as an in-line blocker
– Never had to beat a jam
– Limited starting experience
– Only one year of true production
– Numbers obviously inflated due to pass happy offense
– Does have one serious medical issue on record
– Minor off the field problems, has an arrest
– Left school as a junior, will be 22 in June
– Just 19 career starts
– Record setting 2013 with 106 catches 1352 yards and 7 TDs
– Second most yards and third most catches in Texas Tech history
– Most yards in a single season in NCAA history, 2nd most receptions
– 1st Team All-American by almost every outlet, including the AP, AFCA, and Sports Illustrated
– 1st Team Big 12
– Suffered a Grade 3 lacerated spleen in 2012, causing internal bleeding, and missed six games
– Returned for bowl game in 2012 but was ejected for punching opposing player
– Arrested in the spring after his freshman year on credit card fraud charge though charges were eventually dropped
– Four star prospect coming out of high school, 887 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior
– Currently an unpaid intern writing for the San Antonio Express
Amaro may never be Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron, he’s a tick below them athletically, but make no mistake, his forte is a receiver. 90% of the time at Texas Tech, he was lined up in the slot and can be used as a stand up “Y” tight end at the next level.
This was probably my favorite catch I watched of his. Watch him track the ball over his shoulder while maintaining speed and haul it in. NFL caliber catch showing hand eye coordination and focus.
And this shows Amaro’s ceiling. Double move to create separation. Makes the catch with his hands. Absorbs the hit from the safety immediately and stays on his feet. Drags another linebacker more than ten yards before finally going down. It’s not just the speed as it is the frame that makes him a weapon in the open field.
He’s hot and cold as a blocker and will have to just rep it as an in-line blocker to be more proficient there. In the three games I watched, he couldn’t have seen more than five snaps with his hand down in any one of them. But his size is an obvious advantage, whether that be sealing on the goalline
or in space, driving the corner out of frame
However, when asked to base block coming out of a three point stance, he struggles to stick.
And I also pointed out the need to work back to the football on scramble drills. In Texas Tech’s offense, there were so many options and the ball usually coming out quick, Amaro didn’t need to keep a route alive very often. But here, coming off the right side running a dig route, you can see him stop in the middle of the field as his quarterback is flushed to the right. Reverse field and come back to him. Make yourself an option. The receiver that made the catch? He was running a crosser that he broke upfield after the QB scrambled. Was rewarded with a catch and first down.
Again, as I noted, Amaro rarely had to beat the jam because of the Red Raiders’ penchant for spreading the field. He’ll have to learn how to gain separation without getting a clean release. Simply comes with reps.
To be clear and fair, the arrest does not seem major. Something that he will get asked about but relatively speaking, it’s minor and a non-issue at this point.
Amaro is what teams are looking for. An athletic tight end you can move all over the field and create serious matchup problems. I’m not enamored with height and size but it’s impossible to deny the asset it is.
I’ve been a proponent of the Steelers taking an athletic tight end early and though I have yet to watch other prospects like Austin Sefarian-Jenkins or C.J. Fiedorowicz, I’d have no qualms about selecting Amaro.
Projection: Late First, Early Second Round
Games Watched: vs TCU, at West Virgina, vs Arizona St (Bowl).
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
ILB Shayne Skov
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford