The Atlanta Falcons need Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro for their offense to take the next step.
The loss of Tony Gonzalez could potentially cripple the Falcons' mid-range passing attack if they aren’t ready to have someone take over his role. They could look to Levine Toilolo individually or include him in more two-tight end sets to accomplish the formidable task of replacing the Hall of Fame tight end.
But the best plan of action would be to spend a high-round pick on a tight end. If Amaro is there at No. 37 overall and the Falcons don’t take him, it would be shocking based on how well he fits the offense—especially since he would be a perfect complement to Toilolo and an ideal replacement for Gonzalez.
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The biggest questions about Amaro’s fit in Atlanta come in the form of misconduct. In his freshman year at Tech, he was arrested for credit card fraud, even though the charges were dropped after a review of the incident. He also had an on-field situation in which he punched a opponent during the Meinecke Car Care Bowl against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in his sophomore year.
He’d just come back from an injury that kept him out the majority of the season, so it wasn’t the best look. Amaro was quoted by Jim Halley of USA Today about the incidents:
The credit card thing was something that could have been prevented...It was a lack of knowledge on my part. I got in a bad situation. It had nothing to do with me being me. We didn't really do anything wrong. With the (punch), I kind of just reacted. You need to learn to control yourself in those situations and realize you can't do that in a game. Any one of the coaching staff would tell you I would be the last guy they would expect to do that.
If the Falcons feel like those were just isolated incidents and out of his true character, then he stands a very good chance of playing in Atlanta. That could be why the Falcons have been connected to Amaro multiple times.
ESPN Insider Adam Caplan reported that the Falcons held a private workout with Amaro back in early April. Then, Amaro was later connected to a private visit to team facilities earlier in the month. That’s something just 30 players get to do each season. So Amaro is definitely being looked at by Atlanta.
The Falcons released fullback Bradie Ewing earlier in the offseason. Atlanta tends to work out of more three-wide receiver sets with just one tight end and one running back—also known as "11 personnel"—so fullback has been an underutilized position, especially over the last two seasons.
Adding in Jace Amaro would allow the Falcons offense to still show 11 personnel looks while running out of two-tight end personnel. Amaro and Toilolo would be able to complement each because both can line up tight to the formation or in the slot.
Amaro profiles as a hybrid of Jordan Cameron and Jimmy Graham, while Toilolo is closer to an aging Tony Gonzalez as a receiver, though he is a better run blocker than the future Hall of Famer.
The mix of Cameron of Graham would be deadly in short yardage and red-zone situations. Atlanta had one of the worst red-zone offenses in the NFL in 2013. The Falcons didn’t have the blocking to run the ball successfully in the red zone, but perhaps another issue was the coaching staff not trusting their reserve tight ends to make plays down near the goal line.
Adding Amaro to the mix and using more two-tight end sets in the red zone would give the Falcons more size and scoring ability from their offense. Between Julio Jones (6’3"), Roddy White (6’1"), Amaro (6’5") and Toilolo (6’7") the Falcons would have four big bodies to throw to on red-zone plays.
The Falcons could really make a big transition this season on offense after the retirement of Gonzalez. They should take advantage of every resource they have to make it the best offense they can. And the best way to do that is to take Jace Amaro at the top of the second round.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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