Jace Amaro: 'I was the best guy' at tight end in draft

Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro during warms Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro during warms up before an NCAA game against Baylor in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets just felt right to Jace Amaro.

This was the place the Texas Tech tight end wanted to be. But when the first round of the NFL draft came and went without his name being called, he began to worry.

In the end, however, the Jets got their man, and Amaro found a new home he likes.

"It's the greatest day of my life," the 6-5, 265-pounder said on a conference call shortly after he was selected 49th overall Friday night. "It was honestly the pick that I wanted to be picked at, the place I wanted to play at was in New York . . . This was the place I wanted to be."

With their third-round pick (80th overall), the Jets took Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle. He is coming off shoulder surgery and missed the final eight games in 2013. But the organization isn't worried about his durability.

"He's the type of player you have your eye on," said general manager John Idzik, noting that the cornerback is healed and will be ready to go for minicamp.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Despite a flurry of receivers flying off the board courtesy of Round 2 trades, the Jets were fortunate enough to land a tight end with good size and playmaking ability. Amaro, the first Texas Tech tight end drafted in 44 years, set an NCAA single-season record at his position with 1,352 receiving yards on 106 catches. He finished his college career with 138 receptions for 1,818 yards and 13 touchdowns.

But despite Amaro's on-field production, North Carolina's Eric Ebron garnered much of the predraft attention as this year's top tight end. Amaro said he deserved to be in the same discussion as Ebron, who was taken 10th overall by Detroit. Amaro said Ebron is "a great player" but "I was the best guy. I was the most versatile."

Now Amaro is determined to prove he should have been a first-round pick.

Though some question his pass-blocking, front-office executive Terry Bradway stressed that Amaro is "really a good blocker on the perimeter." And he's sure to improve a Jets offense that finished 25th overall and 31st in passing offense in 2013.

For the second straight night, the Jets wound up staying with their designated pick. They were confident that they would be able to secure top-tier talent by standing pat on Day 1, and they ended up with hard-hitting safety Calvin Pryor. Idzik confirmed they tried to trade up in Round 2, but he wouldn't confirm that it was an attempt to stave off the Jaguars, who took USC's Marqise Lee at 39. Three picks later, the Eagles drafted former Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews.

Before the Jets got down to business on Day 2, they introduced their first-round pick to the masses. Pryor -- the first safety and third defensive back taken Thursday night -- smiled widely as he held up a dark green Jets jersey with his name on the back.

He may be a Louisville slugger, so to speak, but Pryor contends that he's got all the tools to succeed in the NFL.

"I'm very confident in my ability, first and foremost," he said when asked about his coverage skills. "I feel like I have the complete package as a safety. Most people know me as a hard-hitting safety . . . But when you watch my film, you see that playmaking ability that jumps out at you, a guy that's flying around and has passion for the game."

To play at a high level, "you have to play fearless," Pryor noted. That doesn't mean reckless, but the stricter NFL rules won't affect his hard-hitting game, he said.

"Coach [Rex] Ryan just said, 'Just be yourself,' " Pryor said. "In college, I had clean hits, I used my shoulder pads and I don't lead with my helmet. So if I just continue to do the same thing, I'm pretty sure we won't have a problem."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Geno Smith is anxious to see Pryor's hard-hitting ways in person. "It was a great pick, definitely a guy who's going to come and help our defense," the second-year quarterback said while attending a Citi Field event. "And you know, the defense is the quarterback's best friend."

You also may be interested in: