The New York Jets have big time playoff aspirations as training camp in Cortland, New York, officially gets underway. According to Manish Metah at the New York Daily News, head coach Rex Ryan is "confident" that New York can overcome adverse odds and make a push to land a spot in the NFL's postseason, but the Jets must greatly improve their efficiency on offense if they're going to achieve their preseason goal.
Rookie tight end Jace Amaro figures to be a gigantic part of the Jets revamped offense in 2014. The former Texas Tech standout is a pass-catching machine, reeling in a whopping 106 catches for 1,352 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his final collegiate season before being selected by the Jets in the second round of this year's draft.
Amaro has drawn comparisons to the likes of New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski and San Francisco 49ers' downfield threat Vernon Davis. His size and strength make him a valuable asset to a team that averaged just 18.1 points per game in 2013.
It's true the Jets have other weapons on offense, but Amaro gives the team a big-bodied receiving target with above average vertical speed.
Amaro flashed outstanding athletic ability at the pre-draft combine, registering top performer status in six of seven drills performed. He recorded a 4.74 second 40-yard dash time, according to NFL.com and also posted a 33.0-inch vertical jump.
|Jace Amaro - 2014 NFL Combine Results|
|40-Yd. Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||20-Yd. Shuttle|
|4.74 sec.||28 reps||33.0 inch||118.0 inch||4.30 sec.|
Amaro's size and speed, coupled with his natural leaping ability and agility, make him one of the best athletes the Jets now flaunt on their roster. He's bound to be a significant playmaker for an offense that has severely lacked the ability to score points over the past few seasons.
The Jets red zone offense was less than impressive in 2013, scoring a touchdown on just 50 percent of their trips inside opponents' 20-yard line. That absolutely must change for New York to become a legitimate contender for a playoff spot in 2014.
A significant percentage of the Jets' success on offense rides on second-year quarterback Geno Smith—assuming he reclaims his starting job—but dynamic playmakers like Amaro are going to help the cause tremendously.
Amaro ranked among the most dominant pass-catchers in college football last season. He recorded six 100-plus yard receiving games and registered at least eight catches in 10 of 13 games. Amaro was unstoppable in practically every sense of the word, which is what made drafting him a virtual no-brainer for general manager John Idzik.
The Jets receiving offense ranked as one of the most pitiful units in all of football last season, finishing dead last while averaging a meager 204.4 receiving yards per game. New York's receiving corps are much improved this season but remain a work in progress.
The immediate development of players like Amaro will dictate how successful the Jets offense can become in 2014.
Amaro's most eye-opening performance happened in the 2013 National University Holiday Bowl against Arizona State. Although he didn't record a touchdown, Amaro piled up the yardage in the face of a defense that had zero capability of shutting him down. It wasn't his most statistically prolific performance, but it was extremely impressive, nevertheless.
Amaro racked up 112 receiving yards on just eight catches, averaging a solid 14 yards per catch, while aiding his team to a 37-23 win. Six of Amaro's eight receptions went for first downs. His presence over the middle of the field opened up rushing lanes for ASU running backs D.J. Foster and Taylor Kelly, who accumulated 267 combined yards on the ground with two touchdowns.
At 6'5" and 265 pounds, Amaro often requires double coverage, drawing a defensive back in zone schemes, which creates additional open space for other receivers to navigate freely downfield. He's the type of player that constantly enables both the pass game and rush attack because of the attention he demands in coverage.
While Amaro certainly boasts a ton of upside for the Jets on offense, Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com points out that he doesn't always play like his size allows and also isn't a consistently impressive route-runner. As Dom Cosentino of NJ.com notes, "[Amaro] does have a tendency to drop the ball at times and needs to develop as a blocker."
The Jets' second-round pick is bound for a breakout summer in training camp, though. His sheer playmaking ability is going to make him a serious force to be reckoned with for opposing defenses during the 2014 season. The next few weeks will enable Amaro to fine-tune his skills while also showcasing why he's worthy of Gronkowski-esque comparisons.
The Jets greatly improved their chances of scoring points when they opted to draft Amaro. That fact cannot be ignored.