POSITION: Tight End
CLASS: RS Junior
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 250 lbs
Speed: Is in the tier right below elite in terms of speed. Meaning he has more than enough juice to run away from Linebackers and some DBs, but isn’t Noah Fant fast. Looks faster with the ball in his hand than when running routes.
Ball Skills: Adjusts to the ball very naturally. Also can fully extend to make catches or get under the ball and catch it with his palms out. Uses good hand form and rarely catches it with his body as well. Ability to absorb a big blow and come down with the football is impressive.
Route Running: Possesses all of the athletic traits (like speed and short area quickness) to be a good route runner. Yet, still learning the intricacies to being a nuanced separator. Would like to see him do better job of selling his route stems by utilizing head fakes/stutter steps and sinking his hips more. Routes are simple enough for defenders to identify what he is running, which will have to change at the next level. Also, needs to better job of consistently locating the correct voids in zone coverage.
Blocking: Capable and willing blocker, yet won’t specialize this at the next level. Doesn’t have the frame or strength to generate a ton of movement in the run game. But can wall off defenders and not allow penetration. Receiving skills are his true calling card though.
YAC Ability: Sternberger is the YAC king of this Tight End class. His combination of speed, ball carrier moves, and contact balance make him a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands. He has shown the ability to run past defenders, run through defenders, and even make them miss. Bottom line, if this guy gets the ball in the middle of the field with room to run, he is dangerous.
Contested Catch Ability: Is very good at shielding defenders away with his body and locating the football through contact. Made a lot catches with defenders draped on him, showing that he can be a reliable target against tighter coverage. Wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to high point in 50/50 situations. When he was, the results were mixed. Seems to better with both feet on the ground, than jumping up and plucking the ball over someone’s head.
Awareness: Relatively smart football player who does his assignment at a high level. However, needs to polish up his routes and get better at processing coverage.
Competitive Toughness: Competitive nature shines the most when he has the ball in his hands. It takes a valiant effort to tackle him or you won’t get him down. Likes to let his opponents know when he makes a play as well. Displays that he is more than willing to block but isn’t overly physical when doing so.
Best Trait: YAC Ability
Worst Trait: Blocking
Best Film: South Carolina (2018)
Worst Film: Alabama
Pro Comparison: Vance McDonald
Many NFL teams are in desperate need of offensive play makers. Say what you want about Jace Sternberger only having one year of high level production and not being the most complete Tight End in the class. But make no mistake about it, he is an offensive play maker. His athleticism, ability to make catches through contact, ball skills, and YAC ability will give which ever team that drafts him a dynamic threat in the middle of the field.
Obviously, Sternberger isn’t the prototypical in line Tight End like T.J. Hockenson. He fits the mold of a flex Tight End, and when looking at the success players like Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and Evan Ingram have had. These types of player are very valuable in today’s NFL. Landing on a team with creative offensive play caller who can maximize Sternberger’s receiving versatility would be ideal for his skill set.
- Ledyard, Jon. “2019 NFL Draft Player Profile: Jace Sternberger.” The Draft Network, 16 Feb. 2019, thedraftnetwork.com/2019/02/16/2019-nfl-draft-player-profile-jace-sternberger/.