In 2013, four Arizona Cardinals tight ends — Rob Housler, Jim Dray, Korey Sperry and Jake Ballard — caught a combined 73 passes in 16 games — a relatively low number for a Bruce Arians-led offense.
With that in mind, the Cardinals used their second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft Friday on Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas.
He’s a look at the 6-foot-7 standout by the numbers:
Because of his standout junior campaign — 32 catches and five touchdowns — Niklas earned his first and only All-Independent first team selection.
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Since the Cardinals moved to the Valley, only two Irish players have been selected by the organization — wide receiver Michael Floyd and Niklas.
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Niklas became the second member of Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews’ family to be taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. His cousin, Jake, was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with No. 6 overall pick.
Considered a big-play threat, Niklas caught seven balls of over 20 yards in 2013.
Niklas became the fifth tight end selected by the Cardinals over the last 10 years, joining Ben Petrick, Leonard Pope, Dray and Housler.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, 10 tight ends from Notre Dame have been selected in the first or second round of the NFL Draft.
After transitioning from linebacker to tight end before the 2012 season, Niklas started 20 career games with the Irish.
Before Friday, the Cardinals hadn’t made a pick at the No. 52 slot since they selected linebacker Ted Bates in the 1959 NFL Draft.