2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Jace Sternberger 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report
As touched on in the Dawson Knox NFL Draft prospect profile here on RotoExperts, drafting and profiling tight ends is tricky business. Jace Sternberger is no exception to this rule. Outside of Noah Fant and T.J Hockenson, I am not positive that any of the tight ends in this draft class will be long-term NFL starters or even role players. Sternberger's interesting path to the NFL makes him a particularly difficult prospect to evaluate.
Jace Sternberger played in only one season at Kansas University after redshirting his freshman year. The Jayhawks are terrible on offense and barely throw to their tight end so it is reasonable that after two seasons of wasted potential, Sternberger transferred out to a junior college. At Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 2017, Sternberger had 21 receptions for 336 yards and six touchdowns. There are a plethora of examples of junior college pass catchers panning out in the NFL so I don't view it as a negative that Sternberger played there for a year.
After his year in junior college, Sternberger transferred to play at Texas A&M under Jimbo Fisher. In his only full college season in the FBS, Sternberger had 48 receptions, 832 yards, and 10 touchdowns. That makes him one of the most productive tight ends in the entire class. He actually lead Texas A&M in all of those categories and had a final season Dominator Rating of 32.7%. For a wide receiver prospect, that is good. For a tight end prospect, that is almost unheard of. For example, first round draft pick tight end Eric Ebron only had a Dominator Rating of 18.8%. From a production standpoint, what Sternberger did his final year at Texas A&M is pretty impressive and immediately puts him in Day 2 draft pick territory.
The workout numbers for Jace Sternberger are not great. His 4.75 40 is a little disappointing for a player who played basketball in high school and was a quarterback until he injured his shoulder. His agility drills are slightly more positive, registering in the 60th percentile on PlayerProfiler. Overall, I feel more comfortable saying that Sternberger is an average to below-average athlete who has some innate sense of how to play the position that allowed him to be productive in college.
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Watching Jace Sternberger play at Texas A&M is really enjoyable. He played his final college season at the age of 22 so his superb and smooth route running should be expected but thankfully they are there. His hands are also quite soft, and several times on his film you can see him grab the ball out of the air with the grace of an NFL tight end. Sternberger is not much of a blocker but as a receiver, I think he is almost ready to play from day one. His game is more like a big slot wide receiver than a strict in-line tight end but that makes it more likely that he finds a receiving role early on. Overall, I was incredibly impressed with watching Sternberger play and think despite the limited athleticism, he is an NFL-caliber player.
Jace Sternberger Final Verdict
Unlike Dawson Knox who is more of a pure project tight end, Jace Sternberger has an almost-certain NFL future. It is concerning to me that his blocking leaves plenty to be desired and that he is a below-average athlete. The production profile and smooth game on film have gone a long way to convincing me that Sternberger can overcome his athletic deficiencies. There are so many unknowns when it comes to projecting tight ends that just getting on the field and catching passes (including a 3-59-1 performance against Alabama) is meaningful. NFL teams love to add developmental tight ends and there are a handful of times that would be improved by adding Sternberger on Day Two of the NFL Draft.
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