Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame

Cardinals, Round 2. Was a junior. I’d projected him to go in Round 3 before the draft, so his selection in Round 2 seems like a bit of a reach – but a lot of people also had him rated as the third-best TE in the draft, so it’s not all that surprising. He goes to a team with no clear-cut starter at the position but a lot of fairly talented guys, so he has a good shot at being heavily used. The offense isn’t exactly powerful, but it’s adequate, and he should be an important part of it.

Positives: Great height and bulk for the position. Above-average hand size. Good upper body strength. Adequate speed and routes. Fair lateral movement. Has a fairly high ceiling because he was switched from linebacker only in 2012. Good downfield blocker – stays latched on. Above-average hands and are strong enough to extend and snag fast passes.

Negatives: Below-average acceleration. Loses base while pass blocking and tends to get pulled off his feet by defenders. Though his hands are good, they aren’t especially soft. Seems to have some trouble tracking deep passes over his inside shoulder. Will jump for passes when he does not need to. Below-average agility and quickness in Combine drills. Had double hernia surgery in March 2014.

Projection: Draft as a TE3 with TE2 potential – probably in the third round of dynasty rookie drafts.

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