Welcome to the preview of what is the most underrated position when it comes to fantasy football and scouting future prospects in your leagues … it’s the tight ends. These players can often make or break your season. If you find a gem, you get a major boost to go alongside your top selections. If you end up picking some busts, then you are scrambling to make up the missing points week after week. So, where do you start when it comes to finding that roster-changing player? Yep, it’s the NFL draft.
In the forthcoming days, I will breakdown my top 10 tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.
4. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame (6-7, 270)
Troy Niklas is the tallest and biggest of the top tight ends in the 2014 draft class. The team that goes with Niklas is going to have to develop a tight end that is a very raw prospect. He was an offensive and defensive lineman in high school; then, at Notre Dame, he was an OLB first before converting to tight end his last two seasons. So, he is still learning the craft of being an effective tight end and will need to be worked with in regards to his route running. In terms of college production, he snagged 32 passes for 498 yards and five scores (nothing too spectacular). He will need to use his tall frame and his flexibility to create mismatches as he grows in the NFL.
The one area Niklas excels in is his pass and run blocking (no surprise from his offensive line background). He has a great combination of agility and balance that allows him to get leverage in either pass or run blocking. He is able to create the correct angles against defenders and is good at getting in position. Overall, he is the most polished blocker at the tight end position in the draft.
That is the good; now for what needs work. He is a tough guy both physically and mentally that works hard to improve and gain confidence every day. Niklas has the moves to break press coverage and the size to block out defenders, but struggles with his route running. He has trouble separating from defenders and getting out of his breaks. He needs more experience in the passing game to help with certain instincts to find holes in zone coverage or ways to beat man coverage. Niklas does well in catching the ball and turning quick up the field. He is a maximum effort guy that will create yards after each and every catch (makes up for average speed).
Niklas is a high potential guy that can develop into quite a nice tight end at the next level. He is going to be out there right away due to his top-notch blocking skills. He will work hard to improve his ball skills and route running and, if he keeps making large strides like he did at Notre Dame, he will become an offensive threat quick. He will be a third rounder, but with a high ceiling as he grows in experience.