An important cog in a Bruce Arians offensive scheme is the tight end position.
The Arizona Cardinals have been lacking a little in that department over the last several seasons. However, the Red Birds drafted University of Notre Dame product Troy Niklas in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft to give their offense a boost and a solid red zone target.
Niklas is 6-foot-6 and weighs 269 pounds. Rob Housler is currently number one on the tight end depth chart but he will certainly have some stiff competition now for the starting TE spot.
Let’s take a look at Niklas’ scouting report via cbssports.com:
STRENGTHS: Prototypical build for today’s matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field. Seems to enjoy blocking, rocking opponents with an impressive initial punch and latching on to control throughout the play. Keeps his legs driving through contact. Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
WEAKNESSES: Developing route-runner. Rounds off, rather than explodes out of his breaks, allowing defenders to remain closer than they should. Relies on pushing off from defenders too often to get open and wasn’t asked to run the complete route tree, typically running just quick curls, drags and posts down the seam. Possesses sneaky but not elite top-end speed to take the top off the defense and does not possess lateral agility to make defenders miss. A bit of a bull in a china closet.
COMPARES TO: Anthony Fasano, Kansas City Chiefs – Like another former Golden Domer, Niklas isn’t going to wow you with his agility or straight-line speed. In just two seasons at the position he is already among the classes’ most reliable blockers and is an effective underneath target. With further development, Niklas could ultimately emerge as a much more productive NFL player than Fasano, a solid starter in his own right.
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