Jace Sternberger 2019 NFL Draft Profile

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Jace Sternberger
STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 27: Jace Sternberger #81 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs during a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Overview
Position
: Tight end
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 251 pounds
School: Texas A&M Aggies

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.75 seconds
Bench press: 17 reps
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 5 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.19 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.31 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 12.09 seconds

Jace Sternberger 2019 NFL Draft Profile

Every year, there are plenty of draft prospects who weren’t particularly heralded out of high school but inevitably proved the doubters wrong. Jace Sternberger fits that profile. A two-star prospect who received just three FBS scholarship offers from Kansas, New Mexico, and Tulsa, Sternberger picked the Jayhawks hoping to become an impact tight end in the Big XII. But his contributions were scant at best as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

Looking to hone his skill set while getting more playing time, Sternberger transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M near his hometown of Kingfisher, OK. In his lone year with the Norsemen, he hauled in 21 catches for 336 yards with six of his grabs resulting in touchdowns. It resulted in Sternberger emerging as one of the top junior college prospects in 2017. He ended up comprising Jimbo Fisher‘s first recruiting haul as Texas A&M head coach.

Sternberger subsequently exploded onto the scene and established himself as one of the SEC’s top tight ends. His 832 receiving yards were tops among the conference’s tight ends while his 10 touchdown catches led the nation among players at the position. Not surprisingly, he racked up quite a few honors for his efforts. Among them were making numerous All-American teams, receiving first-team All-SEC recognition, and getting named the Aggies’ offensive MVP.

Strengths

  • polished route-runner with sharp transitions;
  • efficiently accelerates to full speed;
  • has the focus and courage to make contested catches in traffic;
  • sound fundamentals as a catcher of the football;
  • creates good horizontal separation at the top of routes;
  • a legitimate vertical threat on seams;
  • can turn on the afterburners after the catch;
  • able to line up in a variety of splits;
  • just three drops on 81 targets in 2018;
  • received highest receiving grade for a tight end from Pro Football Focus;
  • 2.01 yards per route run ranks eighth among draft-eligible tight ends, per PFF.

Weaknesses

  • lacks the size you tend to see out of next level tight ends;
  • could add some functional bulk to withstand NFL-level physicality;
  • tends to gather feet when changing direction;
  • needs to improve as an overall blocker;
  • power rush can push him into cutback lanes for his running back;
  • might not have the play strength to consistently win in blocking situations;
  • dearth of experience could be a concern.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Fasano

Teams With Need at Position: Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets

Projection: Third round

Bottom Line

Not many scouts had Sternberger on their radar at the beginning of the 2018 season. That all changed with what he accomplished during his lone campaign in College Station. Sternberger brings impressive route-running ability and confidently catches pretty much everything thrown his way. He boasts the athleticism and initial burst prized by teams looking for a difference-maker at the position.

The biggest concern, by far, regarding Sternberger’s ability to make an impact at the next level is his blocking ability. Though he’s willing to put in the work, both in-line and downfield, it’s uncertain as to whether he has the requisite play strength and overall technique to keep opponents off ball-carriers. That, combined with the fact that he’s a tad undersized, precludes him from day one consideration as regards the draft.

But there’s plenty to suggest that Sternberger can be impactful as a pro. As he adds more strength in the weight room, he may be able to augment his play strength and become a more effective blocker. If he can replicate what he pulled off for Texas A&M in 2018 on a consistent basis, you’re looking at a player with legitimate starting potential who’ll be an indispensable part of an NFL team’s offensive output year in and year out.

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