Jets second-round pick Jace Amaro has been plagued by drops since minicamp in June, and it is raising concerns not just among fans but perhaps the coaching staff as well.
Amaro came into his rookie season with a strong reputation. Some considered him the best tight end in the draft. A quick look at his stats last year at Texas Tech backs up this optimism as he set a Division I receiving record for tight ends in an offense that was pass-happy. The concern for Amaro was supposed to be his blocking out, a skill set he was rarely asked to utilize in an offense that basically used him split wide as a wide receiver.
Instead it is his hands — the hands which had 106 catches a year ago in college — that are proving to be a weakness.
“You need to take a step up for whatever you do in college. Anything I did there, I need to improve on,” Amaro told Metro. “The preseason game [against the Colts] I missed one I should have had. It's one of those things where I should have made the play and I didn't. It's something I had to learn from and I think I did. I felt more comfortable in the second game, starting the game off and getting those first few drives. [I] felt good with Geno [Smith]. Now it is time to build on that.”
In college, Amaro would spend time after practice catching a tennis ball being shot out of a machine in order to improve his coordination. The Jets don't have that piece of equipment so he regularly uses the JUGS machine after practice to continue to improve his form. He claims to catch 200 balls after practice “every single day.”
Part of the problem might be the size of his hands, the nine-inch span was the smallest of any tight end at the NFL Combine earlier this year. That can make clean catches difficult and the smaller the hands, the higher the likelihood a player will have to catch the ball with his body.
In terms of the mental side of things, he says the college offense at Texas Tech has similarities to what he will do with the Jets, but noted because there won't be as much passing it does take the pressure off of him.
“Just catch the ball. That's the big thing,” Amaro said. “In a game, it doesn't matter how you catch it, just catch the ball. They don't put too much emphasis on one thing. Just make the plays. It's just football, you know? Still the same thing. Feel pretty good right now, felt good today. Felt real good in the game.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.