Each Wednesday of the college football season NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Prospect of the Week. To qualify, the player must have played a significant role in their team's performance against a quality opponent, demonstrating not only effectiveness as the collegiate level but the rare traits to demand the attention of pro scouts, as well.
Top Prospect of Week Seven: Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Carolina's Eric Ebron and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins dominate the conversation when discussing the nation's elite tight ends, but should Texas Tech's Jace Amaro continue his monster junior campaign, he could be the underclassman that has NFL scouts poring over game tape.
As the "Y" in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense, Amaro, 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, has caught at least eight passes in each of his past five games, including nine catches for 143 yards in a thrilling 42-35 win over Iowa State October 12.
Though Amaro possesses the size scouts covet and has experience lining up as an inline blocker, he often splits out as a slot receiver in Tech's spread attack. It was there that his impressive initial quickness and straight-line speed allowed him to gain consistent separation against a gutty Cyclones' squad. Amaro possesses natural hands, showing the ability to pluck the ball outside of his frame.
Amaro's career-high production was critical to the Red Raiders' victory, as Tech was missing starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Freshman Davis Webb more than answered the challenge, however, completing 35 of 56 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns (and one interception) to make Kingsbury a perfect 6-0 since taking over at his alma mater.
While it is easy to get enamored with Amaro's production and upside, scouts will want to see him take better advantage of his size when blocking downfield. Amaro prefers to stalk his opponents, sneaking up to them before latching on with strong hands to control. He is far from dominating in this role, however, despite his size, showing less than ideal aggression in this role.
Knocking Amaro for his average blocking ability, at this time, however, is like critiquing Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. Sure, scouts would love to see him eliminate defenders downfield but each has become a star at their respective levels because of their unique combination of size, body control and natural receiving ability.
It is, of course, premature to compare Amaro to the Saints' All-Pro. Perhaps a more realistic comparison at this early juncture would be Gavin Escobar, a 6-foot-6, 254-pound rookie drafted in the second round last April by the Dallas Cowboys after a dominant career at San Diego State. Escobar elected to leave the Aztecs after his junior season and should Amaro's breakout junior continue, he could be in a similar position to cash in early.
While Kingsbury certainly deserves credit for Amaro's breakout campaign, the talented pass-catcher offered scouts a glimpse of his unique talents in 2012, hauling in 25 passes for 409 yards and four scores despite missing the final six games of the regular season with an injury to his spleen. It isn't just Amaro's medical history that NFL teams will want to investigate. Amaro has described himself as a one-time "hot head." Further, he once faced charges in a credit card abuse case.
Prospect of the Week Archives:
Week One: Alabama WR/RS Christion Jones
Week Two: Miami LB Denzel Perryman
Week Three: Washington RB Bishop Sankey
Week Four: Fresno State QB Derek Carr
Week Five: Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
Week Six: TCU CB Jason Verrett