When the Arizona Cardinals started the 2014 NFL Draft process, most knew that they were going to take a safety. But, the question was, after that, who were they looking at, what positions mattered, and how would they address the rest of the draft?
What they are doing shows that it is a combination of need, with their best available likely fitting nicely into that need, and that was exactly what they did at No. 52.
Troy Niklas has only played tight end for two years, and he’s done enough to convince the NFL that he was worth not only being drafted, but drafted very high.
What can the Cardinals expect?
• Elite size, measurables and moves better that what he was timed at.
• Blocks like an extra offensive lineman, has the potential to be elite as an inline blocker.
• Shows patience, understanding of angles, and good technique in run blocking, with the ability to be used as a tight end or in the backfield as an H-Back.
• Very good hands as a receiving option.
• Uses his size and body to post up and get open in his routes.
• Can bully linebackers, safeties and especially cornerbacks who try and cover him.
• Highly intelligent football mind.
• Very young in his development as a tight end.
• Can pop up in his stance in pass protection, or get a little high when getting to the second level in run blocking.
• Not an elite athlete, more of a traditional, throwback tight end.
• Does not run a full route tree, more of a short route, underneath type of weapon.
• Overly physical in his routes, will have to learn how to get open without pushing off.
Welcome to the NFC West, which requires you to have physically dominant players along both sides of the ball, and that is what Niklas brings to the Cardinals.
Niklas is an old-school, inline tight end. You won’t see him lining up outside, because he’ss the ‘punch you in the mouth’-type of run blocker that the Cardinals will need to compete.
He is a security blanket type of option for quarterback Carson Palmer, as he isn’t going to be a dynamic weapon. Rather, he’s a consistent, short area threat to go along with the big play tickets outside for the Cardinals.
Niklas has to get more comfortable with a greater variety of routes if he is ever truly reach his potential. But, worst case scenario he is going to be an extra lineman-type, who offers potentially dominating support in the run game.
The Cardinals through two rounds established that they are going to be an even more physical team in 2014, and Niklas is the definition of physical.