I’ve watched eight videos on Amaro now. It’s taken some time, but I’m starting to get a feel for what he’s about.
He kind of came from nowhere.
Last season he had 25 catches for 409 yards. This year he exploded for 106 grabs, 1352 yards and seven touchdowns. For a time he led the NCAA for receiving yards and finished at #11 overall. Eric Ebron was the only other tight end to crack the top 80 (#49).
For starters he’s not an incredible athlete who becomes an impossible mismatch. Unlike Ebron, he’s not going to take a short pass and run it 60-yards.
So yeah, Amaro is not the next Jimmy Graham/Jordan Cameron.
Jordan Reed ran a 4.72 at last years combine and Zach Ertz a 4.76. I have a hard time imagining Amaro topping that. In fact he could be in the 4.8’s like Gavin Escobar — who has a very similar frame but is probably a few pounds lighter.
He looks every bit a 260-265lbs player. He’s a big unit and might be able to improve his conditioning. I’d want to see if he can drop a few pounds personally.
Yet despite his size, Amaro has terrific body control. This is his biggest asset. He’ll work a defensive back or linebacker with smart route running — and he always seems to put himself in the best position to make a catch.
Against Kansas he pretty much sold the same play three times — a little corner route to the right side. Every single time he created 2-3 yards of separation purely on his control and polish as a route runner.
There are so many examples on tape where he just gets position, shields the defender and then it’s an easy throw and conversion.
He’s not a flawless hands catcher, but he’s solid. When you need a conversion on 3rd and 5, he’ll run a short route — get open — and he’ll make the play. He’s fairly consistent catching over the middle in traffic.
There’s value there. For teams that don’t have a massive receiver on the outside or a reliable slot guy, a good tight end who gets open underneath or on a quick throw will help you extend drives. Amaro did this regularly for Texas Tech in 2013.
I think he has better red zone qualities than we see in the college tape. His ability to get open in tight spots will be a real problem for defenses close in. Even if he doesn’t emulate his monster yardage stats at the next level, I suspect he’ll be a regular scorer in the right offense.
I’d love to see him getting some back shoulder fades, some little outside whips and quick hitting inside slants.
Having said that, the physical limitations put me off a little bit if we’re talking about the first round and in particular for the Seahawks.
In that range I want a tight end I can line up outside as a pure receiver and win jump balls. I want a player who runs down the seam and can take a catch 15-20 yards before he’s brought down.
Essentially, I want something akin to the Gronk if I’m going all-in with a first rounder.
A lot of average tight ends have entered the league because they’re a bit bigger and run a 4.6. I want a difference maker. A special player.
Ebron has as much potential as any college tight end in recent years and should be a top-20 pick as a consequence. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has flashed Gronk-like talent and if he really rams home the conditioning side, he can be that type of player.
Amaro, funnily enough, reminds me more of Zach Miller. Similar body, similar pass catcher. Amaro will need to work on his blocking but all young tight ends do.
There is tape of him running downfield, breaking tackles and making plays. West Virginia had a torrid time against him but their defense has been suspect for a while. When he does make a big gain he’s more of a 20-yard catcher — just slipping into the secondary and getting into a nice zone.
Again, he’s a savvy route runner and knows how to find open space.
It’ll be interesting to see how he compares to Ebron and ASJ athletically — to see if I’m right and if they mark up better. There are teams in the back end of the first round who will be considering drafting a tight end. He might be better placed as an early second round selection.
Escobar was the 15th pick in round two last year but lacked Amaro’s control, consistent catching ability and conversion rate on 2nd/3rd down. They’re similar athletically, but it’s probably good for 10-15 slots on draft day that he’s already a much more reliable target.
Personally I’d rather swing for the fences. I suspect ASJ is a more dynamic athlete than people realise and he’ll be in the best shape of his life for the combine. Ebron will be long gone by Seattle’s pick.
If they decide to save money on Zach Miller’s contract and go for a tight end in the first frame — I’d lean towards going after Seferian-Jenkins before Amaro. Get Tom Cable working on his blocking — get him in the best possible shape. You could end up with an excellent all-round tight end who doesn’t just do a good job in protection, but also makes big plays too — including some lined up outside.
Having said all that — and we’ve talked a lot about tight ends this week — I still think it’d be more beneficial to pick up a big, tall receiver who can eventually develop into a true #1.
It’s all about what’s on the board. If there simply aren’t any receivers who fit that description worthy of a first round grade, you have to look at other options that can have a similar impact.