When the Jets avoided taking an offensive skill player in round one of the NFL Draft, there was a ton of pressure on the team to get a difference maker in the passing game in round two. The Jets answered the call by taking the most productive tight end in college football last year, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro.
In terms of playing style, Amaro is very much in the "oversized receiver" mold seen in several of the league's most productive tight ends such as Jimmy Graham. For a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder, Amaro is a talented and fluid athlete who boasts natural hands and is particularly difficult to bring down once he has the ball in his hands. Amaro spent the vast majority of his time in college lining up in the slot and caught over a hundred passes last season, making him a likely immediate weapon as a receiver but a long-term project as an inline tight end.
Offensive impact in 2014:
Depending on who else steps up amongst the Jets young core of receivers, there could be a lot of pressure on Amaro to hit the ground running as a rookie. His transition will be difficult as he will be making the adjustment from a simplistic spread offense in college to Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast Offense and also the fact that lining up in-line and blocking are relatively foreign concepts for Amaro.
Nonetheless, his natural talent as a receiver will be incredibly useful from day one and the Jets have already gotten under way in practice experimenting with lining up the rookie in a variety of spots both out wide and in-line. It appears that Mornhinweg already has a plan in mind for Amaro's rookie campaign.
While he almost certainly won't be a three down starter for the team right away, expect Amaro to see a lot of playing time on offense as the de facto third receiver with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley and for Jeff Cumberland to see the most time as an in-line blocker.
Soon after being drafted, Amaro stated his lofty goal of wanting to be a tight end that catches a hundred balls in a season. As a rookie though, the Jets would gladly accept even half that. Rookie tight ends that perform at a level rivaling the league's best are uncommon, as receivers in general typically take some time to adjust to playing at the highest level. The Jets can look to their last highly drafted tight end, 2008 1st rounder Dustin Keller, as a solid basis for comparison.
Keller came into the league with a similar skill set to Amaro – obvious and dynamic receiving skills but a project as an in-line blocker. Keller took some adjusting, but when the second half of the season rolled around he became a bigger part of the offense and even was the go-to receiver in a few games. Expect something similar from Amaro: some highs, some quiet moments, but overall a promising rookie season.