Welcome to the preview of what is the most underrated position when it comes to fantasy football and scouting future prospects in your leagues … it’s the tight ends. These players can often make or break your season. If you find a gem, you get a major boost to go alongside your top selections. If you end up picking some busts, then you are scrambling to make up the missing points week after week. So, where do you start when it comes to finding that roster-changing player? Yep, it’s the NFL draft.
In the forthcoming days, I will breakdown my top 10 tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.
3. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech (6-5, 265)
Jace Amaro is a “tight end” in namesake only. He lined up 90% of the time in the slot and, while this is the Texas Tech offensive philosophy, it is going to take some convincing to give coaches the trust to put him on the line to block. He is basically a big slot receiver that is classified as a tight end (always a good thing for fantasy owners). He was a big-time producer in 2013 with 106 catches for 1,352 yards (FBS record for most receiving yards by a tight end in single season) and seven visits to paydirt. So, receiving production is not a problem for Amaro. Blocking, on the other hand, is an issue. He may give effort to block the defenders, but his limited experience and below-average technique is troublesome if he wants to be out there every play. He needs great improvement in this area. I see him as a receiving specialist his first few years until he develops his blocking ability.
Amaro has good size for the position and very long arms (34”), but small hand size (9”). He has good body control in the air and has the ability to adjust to poor throws, but he is very inconsistent when catching balls in traffic. He needs to work on posting up against defenders to win 50-50 balls and to take advantage of holes in a zone. He is a weapon out of the slot with great burst off the line of scrimmage and good moves at beating press coverage, which should come as no surprise given his role at Texas Tech. He also was proficient at yards after catch in his time at Texas Tech with a good transition once he secured the catch.
Along with his blocking issues, there are personal issues and injury concerns that all occurred in 2012. In the Meineke Car Care Bowl, Amaro was ejected for throwing a punch. Earlier in the year, he was arrested for credit card fraud for an incident at a Lubbock bar (charges later dropped). While he has grown up from those incidents, they still raise some red flags among NFL general managers. On the injury front, Amaro suffered a grade-3 lacerated spleen and internal bleeding in a game against West Virginia.
Amaro has offensive talent and that cannot be denied. My question is: where does he fit? He cannot be an every down player (at least for the first few years) due to his lack of blocking ability. He cannot be a full-time slot receiver due to his bulk. I see him as more of an h-back in an NFL scheme. He reminds me of a bigger Chris Cooley or Aaron Hernandez in terms of fit. He can play the slot with another tight end on the line and be a solid short yardage target. Amaro is a mid-second round selection in my book.
Amaro’s highlights (credit to Harris Highlights):