Troy Niklas, TE

School: Notre Dame  |  Conference: FBS Independents
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Fullerton, CA
Height/Weight: 6-7 / 270 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
---27 32-4.557.57
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.86--27 329'6"4.557.57

Player Overview

Niklas signed with the Irish as one of the country's most highly regarded preps, distinguishing himself as an offensive and defensive lineman, as well as a tight end in high school.

While overshadowed throughout his early career by future Mackey Award (and Cincinnati Bengals 2013 first round pick) Tyler Eifert, Niklas' imposing frame certainly caught the attention of Notre Dame's coaching staff, which moved him to linebacker as a true freshman to get him on the field.

Niklas played in 12 games at outside linebacker, including starting against Michigan State. He recorded 20 tackles, including half a tackle for loss in his first year at the position.

He made the switch back to tight end as a sophomore but clearly was a secondary target to Eifert, serving primarily as a blocking specialist. In 13 games (including seven starts), Niklas caught just five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against Boston College. Niklas started all 13 games for the Irish and was third on the team in receiving with 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.

With only one full season as a starter, Niklas was a surprise early entrant into the 2014 draft. His imposing frame and underrated athleticism, however, scream upside. While still a bit inconsistent as a receiver, Niklas also shows off the ability to extend and pluck tough passes outside of his frame.

Scouts certainly are excited about his potential. The normally conservative Advisory Committee reportedly gave Niklas a second round grade, potentially hastening his early departure from South Bend.

Strengths Weaknesses

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.

--Rob Rang (2/3/14)

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