In 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots struck gold at the tight end position by selecting both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The two revolutionized the Pats offense, and it appeared that the two would be staples of the New England offense for years to come. However, with Hernandez behind bars and Gronkowski being chronically injured, the position has become a huge need for the Patriots.
A Position of Need
With the 2014 NFL Draft less than a month away, and Gronkowski’s Week 1 status still in doubt, it’s time to start seriously looking at tight ends that the Patriots might try to land during the first two days of the draft. One name that was commonly linked to the Patriots around the time of the combine was Jace Amaro. The 6’5″ TE out of Texas Tech was a common named displayed next to the Patriots in mock drafts a couple months ago. Since then, however, he has sort of dropped off the radar. Mainly because most believe the Patriots should focus their attention on the defensive line. There is also the fact that this draft is fairly deep at the tight end position, and good value can be found on days two or three. Nevertheless, Amaro is the real deal, and should be considered a real option at #29, or as a candidate to trade up for in the early-to-mid second round.
Potential Hernandez Replacement
One thing that is intriguing about Amaro possibly joining the Patriots is his similarity to Aaron Hernandez. Like Hernandez, Amaro has the potential to play the “Joker” role in the Patriots offense. While Amaro’s combine numbers represent that he may be a step slower than Hernandez, he put together a very impressive combine overall. Unlike Hernandez, who was small for a tight end, Amaro has prototypical tight end size at 6’5″ and 265lbs. At Texas Tech he demonstrated impressive route running ability, a good release off the line, and superb body control. One knock on him, however, is that he struggles to catch contested balls. This may be due to his small hand size. His hands measured at just 9″ at the combine, which is shockingly low for a player his size.
Amaro has also shown improvement as a blocker during his time at Texas Tech, and has become a better all-around player each and every season. While he certainly could play the Joker role that Hernandez has left vacant, he also has the size needed to play as a traditional tight end. Amaro certainly makes sense as a scheme fit next to Rob Gronkowski, but with Gronk’s injury problems, Bill Belichick and company may look to select a more traditional tight end like Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas or Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz in the upcoming draft.