Rookie Scouting Report: Tight End Jace Sternberger
Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Weight: 251 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.75 seconds
Vertical: 31.5 inches
Broad Jump: 113 inches
He’s not in the top-tier of tight ends in the draft who are expected to go in the top 45 picks, but Sternberger should be the fourth tight end off the board. He’s not as athletically gifted as some of the other prospects, but he’s a stable option who can play an important role in the NFL. His measurements at the Combine won’t show the things he does well, but are his on-field skills enough to move him up draft boards?
While at Texas A&M for his junior season, Sternberger made an impact while catching 48 receptions for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns. Each of those totals led the team, so he was the primary pass-catcher in his first year at the school, which speaks volumes. He was not really known before then, so was he a one-year wonder, or was he a diamond hidden in the rough?
Size/Versatility: 2.5 out of 5 stars
His measurements are pretty close to the standard for tight ends, though he doesn’t play bigger than he’s listed. He’s not a big guy by any means, but he should be big enough to withstand hits over the middle of the field, which is important because his primary role should be as a pass-catcher.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Takes a bit longer to decelerate when you’d like. He’s not the sharpest route runner, but he varies his speeds to create separation and will use a slight bit of contact at the stem of his route to give his quarterback some space to work with. He needs to sell his routes a lot better, as you continually see him look the direction he’s going before he even rotates his body that way. He also needs to stop rounding out his routes so much. While that’s a difficult thing to do for a tight end, his are a bit exaggerated.
Speed: 2.5 out of 5 stars
He has what you’d describe as average speed for a tight end. He’s not a plodder who’ll hold back an offense, but he’s also not someone who’ll catch a ball and outrun everyone to the end zone. He doesn’t have immediate burst off the line, so the speed he does have is ramped up. He made plenty of plays down the field, though that was likely due to the free release he got off the line of scrimmage nearly all the time.
Hands/High-Pointing: 4.0 out of 5 stars
He’s a sure-handed tight end who can play a possession-style role. Saw him get hammered and hold onto the ball through contact multiple times. He also makes contested catches regularly. He adjusts well to balls that are off-target, as his quarterback continually threw the ball behind him, yet Sternberger was able to rotate his hips quickly and snag the ball with his strong hands. His hands are easily the strongest part of his game. We don’t have much of a sample of him high-pointing balls, but given his measurements, he’s not a large radius guy.
After the Catch: 2.5 out of 5 stars
He’s a gritty player who’ll fight for as many yards as he can get, but he’s not the strongest tight end. He’s going to make his defender earn the tackle, but if they wrap him up, the play is likely over. He’s not stiff in the open field and can juke his way for a few extra yards, but nothing spectacular after the catch.
Blocking: 2.0 out of 5 stars
He stays too upright in his blocks, hasn’t learned how to leverage his weight like he should. Also saw him completely miss a defender on a stunt play where he was supposed to pick up the linebacker, but he missed him and the linebacker came right through, tackling the running back for a loss. There were times where I’d see him go and tag-team block rather than finding his own man, something that will stunt his availability in the NFL. He’s a willing blocker and the effort is there most of the time, though his vision when his man isn’t right in front of him is lacking. The best word to describe his blocking: inconsistent.
Potential Landing Spot
After going through Sternberger’s film, he’s a well-rounded tight end who has extremely good hands. Can he play right away with his inconsistencies in blocking? That’s yet to be determined, but I think there’s still some development that he needs before playing a significant role. If brought along properly and installed in the right offense, he can be a go-to option over the middle of the field. The Broncos are a team to watch, as they really don’t know what they have in Jake Butt after multiple ACL tears. The Bengals could have Tyler Eifert hold down the fort for one year while Sternberger develops. You also have a team like the Vikings who could be looking to move on from Kyle Rudolph at some point in the near future. There are plenty of destinations that are possible for Sternberger because he’s slated to go sometime during Day 2 of the draft.
While comparing Sternberger, you want to select a player who’s reliable in the passing game, even though he isn’t the greatest route runner and doesn’t have the most speed. Because of that, I landed on Jack Doyle, who also struggles with his blocking at times. If Sternberger goes to play with a quarterback who targets his tight ends frequently, Sternberger could have a rock-solid role in fantasy football, too.