As we countdown to the NFL Draft starting on May 8, I will spend anywhere from 4-8 hours to break down the strengths and weaknesses of at least the top 20 or so offensive skill-position prospects available in this draft.
College: Texas Tech
Important NFL Combine Numbers
40-Yard Dash: 4.74
Vertical Jump: 33”
Broad Jump: 9’ 10”
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.30
Background (College Stats)
Amaro was an All-American selection at tight end coming out of MacArthur High School in San Antonio and rated as the third-best player at his position in his recruiting class. The Plano (Tex.) native was pretty much an afterthought as a freshman under coach Tommy Tuberville in 2011, registering only seven catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Amaro appeared to be much more in the team’s plans in 2012, however, and posted a 23-394-4 line through six games that season. His breakout game came in the Red Raiders’ 49-14 upset of a No. 4/5 West Virginia squad led by Geno Smith in which he exploded for 156 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Amaro did most of his damage before he was taking a hard hit to the midsection near the end of the first half while jumping for a ball. He returned after intermission to make two catches for 35 yards in the second half before exiting the game for good. It was later discovered the first-half hit Amaro took resulted in a spleen laceration and a fractured rib, injuries that caused internal bleeding and kept him bedridden for three weeks; he missed the rest of the regular season as a result. He recovered in time to make an appearance in Texas Tech’s victory over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but was promptly ejected for throwing a punch at a defender late in the third quarter. Former Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury took over for Tuberville prior to the start of the 2013 season and seemed to immediately recognize what he had in Amaro, who overcame a slow opener against SMU to become only the second Red Raider (Michael Crabtree) to record eight or more receptions in nine consecutive games. Although he took two more big hits that caused him to miss some game action against Kansas State and Baylor, Amaro finished his final college campaign with the FBS record for single-season receiving yardage by a tight end (1,352, breaking James Casey’s 2008 mark).
NFL Player Comp(s): Gavin Escobar
- Spent the majority of his time in the slot and has a wealth of experience getting open against cornerbacks as well as linebackers and/or safeties.
- Shows good focus as a receiver and a set of reliable hands that pluck just about every ball on or near his frame.
- Consistently fights for yards after the catch and is a load to bring down.
- Made a living on crossing routes and other throws within five yards of the line of scrimmage in college (over 50 percent in 2013).
- While he doesn’t possess elite speed, he has some burst for a bigger player and can threaten the seam.
- Routinely bounces back quickly after absorbing a punishing hit.
- Will “stalk block” in the slot, but merely stands up the defender most of the time; appears to be disinterested in blocking in-line at times and does not show the willingness to physically dominate his opponent in the way his size suggests he should.
- Has the build and skills to become a complete tight end, but often looks uncomfortable in-line and may be a little ways away from realizing his all-around potential.
- Does not win as many 50-50 balls as he should or use his size all that effectively to shield off defenders (although he did a much better job of the latter in his final college game).
- Inconsistent fundamentals; sometimes he displays impressive quickness and footwork while he was too upright and rounds off his routes other times.
- Allows defenders to occasionally alter his route.
- Slight anger (ejected from 2012 bowl game) and character concerns (arrested for credit card fraud in March 2012, although that charge was later dropped).
There is a lot to like about Amaro and probably just as much not to like. As a receiver in the passing game, it is hard to find a player with his mismatch potential who is so sure-handed. He shows good, if not great, effort with the ball in his hands and is a handful to tackle. The other notable positive he brings to the table is his ability to separate in the short and intermediate passing game, which isn’t exactly a trait that a lot of college receivers possess – much less tight ends. However, as impressive as he is as a receiver, he doesn’t play anywhere close to his size as a blocker. Despite possessing prototypical build for his position, he is very much a receiver in a tight end’s body. He appears content to stand up an undersized defender most of the time and shows little willingness to put forth the effort to drive him out of the play. Furthermore, his blocking technique is poor (not entirely unexpected for a player that spent so much time in the slot), something that becomes more obvious when considering his weight-room strength (28 reps of 225 pounds at the combine). The fact that he is entering a league that is as pass-happy as it ever has been helps his case to contribute immediately in the NFL, but he is not the special athlete that Eric Ebron is or nearly as well-rounded of a prospect at the moment as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. With that said, a creative offensive mind in the NFL will have a field day moving him around the formation in order to create mismatches. The blocking should come along with a lot of practice and experience and, once that area of his game is even considered average, he could enjoy Dennis Pitta-like success.