Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame

6-6 1/2, 270, 34" Arms, 27 Reps! 

9'8" Broad, 32" Vert, 

4.4 SS, 7.55 3-C,

The "Fighting Irish" Part I.

Too Good To Be True Part III.

By TOM

Niklas continued to catch the ball smoothly at Combine. He is so smooth reaching out and grabbing the ball on Out throws. The ball just melts into his hands. Every time I watch him play he impresses me. Reaches up and snags the high throw so naturally. Not trouble hopping up and grabbing the high throw.  He looks so smooth running deep. He has that knack for getting open 20-yards down field. Nice hands catcher on deep passes over his head. He keeps looking more and more like the Gronk from Arizona to me. This Draft is packed it is unreliable. There are five tight ends who should be 1st round locks, before the talent really start going down. Ebron is bare

He is a terrific blocker at the point. He gets low, and can drive the OLB into the turf. He does a nice job of holding onto the shirt so the defender canít escape. Then he lines up in the slot and runs past the OLB like he is a ghost, and gets behind the safety. Then he lines up and knocks the OLB to the ground again. 

Does a nice job sealing the OLB on the strongside on inside runs. He also does a nice job Seal the OLB on the strongside, and then drive blocks him 5-yard to the sideline on off tackle runs. He blocks every bit like a 270 pound TE. He just keeps stalemate the OLB on the edge. He can stalemate the D-End as well. Although he will get knocked back rather than knocking him back. Needs a little work on goal line blocker. Doesnít fire out as aggressive as you want. Not his style just yet. He likes to get position first, gets his hands on the defender, and then use his legs to power block. But when he does get low and fire off the snap, he can drive the D-End back. 

Does a nice job firing off the line with a Rip through the OLB to get into his pattern nicely. Gets into position quickly and turns back with hands up nicely. He is very impressive chipping on the OLB, sliding off, and then going and getting the Safety and putting him on skate 10-yards downfield. Lines up standing up in the slot sometimes, but struggle to block the MLB from that position. 

He can get beat by the push pull in pass protection. Terrific double team blocker. He can really drive block with his feet and arms extended once he and a teammate get the OLB or D-End moving backwards.  Lines up as an H-Back, and when he gets a little speed he he can drive the LB back a few yards. Consistently lines up inline next to either O-Tackle, like a tight end. He is quick enough to cross all the way out to the sideline and block the Corner on the edge on outside plays. 

He does such a nice job of coming off the snap faster, and getting down field to block the safety out in space. Relentless chasing his assignment downfield. He can find him, hit him, and when he breaks free, change directions and hit him again as the RB zigs and zags behind him. He can take the physical beating from the D-End and hold on just long enough to stop him from getting to the RB.

Runs nice physical routes. When he hit the LB on the second level and then cuts outside, the defender canít stay with him. Looks good running down the seam. Terrific goal line receiver. He can really go up and get the ball. He does look like Gronk on the goal line. He slams into t he LB, turns and jerks to the sideline. He has no trouble catching the ball away from his body.

Runs a great out and up. He can beat the CB down the sideline for the 30-yard reception. No trouble catching the deep throw with his hands. He is a 1st Round talent. He has no trouble leaping up over his head to catch the over thrown deep ball. Phenomenal talent. Does a nice job finding a hole in the zone right in front of the QB, and presenting a nice target.

He does a very nice job chipping and Dragging outside to present a target for the QB waggling out of the backfield on the play action. He will be a force in the NFL running a Seam route. His size is so perfect for the QB to throw the ball over the LB when he is running down the Seam. My favorite trait of Niklas is that he never lets the ball into his body. He always stick his hands out, and grabs the ball away from his body. That is such an important trait for a tight end. He also has excellent speed and burst in his patterns, which is so important for a TE when he runs patterns to get open.

He is such a dangerous threat in the Redzone. The QBs just lofts the ball up high, and he goes and gets it. I like how he comes off the line. He gets up to full speed fast. I think the best thing about his patterns is his get off, and how fast he runs them. He is so adept at catching the ball and turning up field. Even under tight coverage, and can only trip forward for a few extra yards. But when the defender doesnít trip him, he can take off and gain a ton of extra yard. He is great at getting YAC.

He uses his hands so well in patterns. He punches off LBs and DBs like a D-End punching off a O-Linemen. They are colliding, and then he punches and he snaps outside and is 3 to 4 yards wide open. That is such an unstoppable move. He runs so smoothly and so well that you forget the he is a 260 pound Ex-D-End, and suddenly that strength, heavy hands, and power are exposed on the field. It is fun to see.

He does a nice job finding the holes in the zone. He uses his hands nicely to get smaller cover guys off stride to break himself open. He does such a nice job catching the ball and then getting yards after the catch. He is also very young to offense. He was recruited to ND as a D-End. He only played TE at ND for two seasons. Which makes his tape so much more impressive. He is so unique, and still has so much more growing to do. He is just a baby at the tight end position.

Sells Out routes nicely. He can give a little look inside, and then hit the LB and cut outside. There is no way the LB can cover him after he knocks up and back, and then cuts out. He can catch the tough throw behind him. He had a fumble against Michigan ST, but it was recovered by his teammate. He can look funny lined up in the Slot, because he is so big.

He has a drop every now and again. The QB throws high so often that sometimes he canít bring it in when he is unsure where he is going to be hit. Takes his eyes off the ball sometimes to spot the safety coming in to hit him. Lines up as a slot receiver and likes to run crosses and slants inside. He has a good feel for where the 1st down marker is. Turns and looks back at the QB smoothly.

He showed as a Sophomore that he could go up high in the Redzone and make the tough catch over all the DBs. He looks Gronk like reaching up and grabbing the high throw over the linebackers. Like Gronk, he is an unusual hands catcher for a 6-6 tight end. He always reaches out and catches the ball. Another aspect that is elite in his skills is that he doesnít need to slow down at all to catch the ball. He reach out at full speed, catches the ball, and then takes off. He can run 50-yards after the catch with surprising competitive speed.

Niklas: Every Pass Play This Season

Watch how he heads to the Endzone and curls just a little behind the LBs. The QB throws it high over the LBs, and leaps up arms extended way above his head and snag the ball (:17). He comes off the line and just curls and angles In. Not a precise pattern, but he got to the hole in the Zone. Then he is powering down field (:25). You can see him reach down and back a little. Almost the opposite of the first throw (:38). You can see him here about 35-yards down field reaching out and catching the ball with his hands easily. That is such a nice talent for a 6-6 tight end (:50). He does such a nice job catching the ball 20-30 yards down field.

Heís not on the Seam, but this as nice a Seam route as you are going to see a 270 pound tight end run. Notice his hands up and away from his body catching the ball without slowing down at all. Then he runs another 50-yards for the TD (1:06). You can see the ball is on the 35-yard line. That is a 65-yard TD (1:17). He catches the ball easily 15-yards down field at full speed, and it looks like he actually accelerates as he catches the ball. That is 270 pound man running away from LBs and DBs.

Here he is lined up in the slot. He reach out with one hand but can't bring it in (1:34). You can see run a deep Slant, and fill the hole behind the blitzing MLB. The ball was a little high, but he should have caught that (1:41). Reaches out with the linebacker grabbing him from behind. Another catch he should have had, but he was hit by two defenders as he was trying to catch the ball (1:51). It looked like he took his eyes off the ball to look at the Safety. That was not a good drop.

He gets nice position right at the first down. He walls off the DB nicely (2:08). However, he didnít wall him off enough, and the DB made a great play jumping over his shoulder to knock it down. That was not a drop (2:12). Finds his way open by the marker again. Catch the ball thrown slightly behind him, and had to slow down to catch it (2:21). You can see him give a little head fake here, and then knock the LB back. He cuts off contact so well there is no way the linebacker can do anything about. (2:30). You can see he has to slow to catch the ball, or that would have been a first down. He does a nice job stopping to catch the bad throw (2:36). He runs a little Center Screen here. That is not a normal play for a TE. He does a nice job getting some yards (2:42). You can see he fakes a blocks, gets hit by a defender, and ran into his blocker as well. He still get into position to make the play (2:49). Then he fumbled the ball (3:04). And the O-Lineman that popped him recovered the fumble.

Here he is looking like a giant in the slot (3:10). He is running a route with his hands down. He splits the retreating LBs, and cuts out for a nice first down (3:19). Watch the contact before he breaks out, and then the nice shoulder pull to help him get open (3:32). Lined up inline. You can see how easily he catches it 20-yards down field (3:40). He heads right down the Seam, and breaks out wide open. He turns and runs in for a TD (3:52). He leaps up and turns in the air, but just can bring it in (4:09). That is a great effort by a big TE. You can see the DB hits his hand before the ball arrives here, otherwise he might have had it (4:17). That should have been a great catch.

He finds the slightest of holes between the LBs, and then leaps up field with a nice burst (4:35). Watch this quick little move inside. He showed a little suddenness in his shoulders there (4:41). There he is cutting out again, and gaining yards after the catch. He is such an interesting weapon (5:02). Again you can see the uncoverable patterns he runs off contact. Watch the punch by the inside hand as he turns out, and the LB is suddenly 3-yard away from him. That inside punch on patterns is such a great weapon for him (5:11). Then he is turning up field for more yards. That is a great pattern.

A subtle little out again (5:21). However, he didnít get any contact and the linebacker was able to get his hand in the passing lane (5:26). This is such a nice catch. He leaps up over the DB and snag it out of the air. That is the Redzone threat the Pats need (5:32). He runs straight down the middle of the field, like a Seam route. He is open, but the QB has to bail (5:46). You can see how wide open he is. Then he sees the QB cut to the outside, so he cuts towards the QB scrambling, and is rewarded with a TD (6:01). There he is leaping up over the DB again.

Here he is inline. Watch how fast he gets into his pattern. He has a nice blast off the snap, like a D-End. He can get a little nervous sometimes catching the ball between two defenders, but here he is reaching out and grabbing the ball between the Safety and LB, taking the hit, and holding on (6:10). Here is a smooth Out, with little or no contact. He used his speed to get open here (6:22). Unfortunately the ball was thrown a little behind him. He had to slow to catch it, and the LB reached in and punched the ball out. If the QB had thrown the ball in time or lead him a little that could have gone for a long way (6:31). Same pattern, better throw (6:35). The LB actually had better coverage, but the QB threw the ball on time (6:43). You can see the QB put the ball in the opposite side of his body as the defender, and he catches it easy and turns up field.

That ball is way overthrown, and he almost drags it in (6:49). This is a pattern a tight has to run. He gives a little chip like he is run blocking, and then holds the block for an extra second like he is pass blocking. That is really selling the play action. Then he shoves the rusher off, and gets open dragging into the Flat (7:14). Watch how fast he turns up field and starts running (7:24). Here he is coming off the line and is essentially running a Seam route. Watch how he catches the high pass over the LB. That is another pattern you have to be able to run in the NFL (7:31). You can really see his speed into pattern here. Then watch how he dismisses the LB with his hands and feet working together in perfect balance (7:45). He is two yards open, but the QB still has to throw over the LB. This is where his height and long arms really come in handy. Watch him leap up smoothly grab the ball. Then keep moving forward as he protects the ball.

Again, catching the ball away from his body with arms fully extended. That is how you want to see a tight end catch the ball (8:03). Another catch I wanted to see, because of the early drops between the an LB and a DB. He makes another nice catch between two defenders (8:12). When he is physical in his patterns he cannot be covered (8:19). You can see him get his hands up nicely. He never lets the ball into his body. He probably wouldnít have made that catch if he had let it into his body, as the DB was coming fast (8:27). Another Quick out (8:48). Skips up and catches it with his hands again, but couldnít get out of bounds (8:56). He is such a great athlete (9:01). He was tripped (9:11). Watch him reach up with one hand and get his hand on the ball as he falls to the ground.

Niklas Vs Everyone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC6M0SbNReM

Niklas Vs Michigan: Run Blocking.

Iím just going to go over the blocking plays here. This is my fifth game of him, and Iím a little sick of watching him right about now. He likes up between the OLT and the H-Back on either side of the line a lot on run downs. He gets into the D-End and backs him up a little. Then the D-End holds his ground and the OLT comes over and he gets knocked off the block (:01). One thing I did notice about him is that he does a nice job of sustaining blocks, but does have a time limit. He stops moving his feet after a couple of seconds, and can get pulled aside. But he is an excellent blocker for two or three seconds.

Then he lines up in the Slot as a receiver. He gets a little over aggressive and misses the block. But watch the quickness as he turns back and gets his hands on him just enough to cause trouble (:09). This is an odd block. He Swims over the D-End, like he is a D-End, and then tries to get to the LB and misses him. Then he goes for the Safety and misses him (:15). He misses the block again and tries to grab onto the D-End (:22).  Here we go, this is the kind of block he can do. He gets into the D-Ends shirt and holds hold (:29). He keeps his feet moving and stalemate him the edge. That is a real nice block. Blocking the D-End by himself on a run play is not easy for a tight end, and he looked like a tackle there.

This is a terrific block in Pass Protection. He gets his hands up and jams him nicely. Watch the D-End lose his balance as Niklasí block sent him into the D-Tackle (:36). Here he is again pass blocking with his arms extended and stalemating the D-End (:46). Another nice example of pass blocking (:51). He does a real nice job against D-Ends in pass protection.

You see this a lot. He gets a nice little push, and then has to give a little ground back. But he holds on and the RB is able to scoot by him (:59). Here he is between the ORT and the H-Back on a run down. He does a nice job Sealing the D-End, but then canít hold the block (1:01). He gets a little high sometimes. He allows the D-End to get under him. He turns and Seals him nicely, but gets tossed aside as the D-End was able to push him up.

Nice Seal block. It was a little short, but he got him turned and made it tough for him to get back in the play (1:10). This is an elite block. He gets his knees bent, hands up, and moves his feet nicely. He holds the D-End as the ORT slides over and grabs him. Then he shifts over nicely to the D-Tackle stunting outside. He holds him out on the edge until the QB can throw (1:20). Much better job being physical in the run game on the edge (1:30). Another nice block on the edge. He didnít seal him completely, but he turned him just enough for the RB to slash by him (1:36). We get a good look here. Watch as he stays low as he bursts inside of the D-End, gets position, and gets his hands into the D-Ends shirt. He doesnít keeps his feet moving, but anchors nicely as the D-End fights back (1:43). You get a real nice look here. See him get the angle. Then he keeps his hands and feet moving as he tries to Seal him completely. But the D-End fights back, and jams him back nicely (1:52). He holds on as he anchors his feet behind him, and the D-End went down that time.

That is a perfect Seal block on a tough D-End. Frank Clark is an excellent college D-End (2:00). Watch him move his feet here in pass protection. That is an excellent example of a pass protection tight end doing it perfectly. He gets his hands on the D-End's shirt, moving his feet, and holds on until the ORT gets there to help (2:08). Another nice seal block. The D-End slips the block and hustles over to the RB, but canít get him until he gets the first down (2:15). Another great Seal block on Clark. He completes the turn and holds on until the RB is gone (2:24). That was a real tough block.

There he is catching a perfect Seam pass, and fighting for the first down (2:32). This is when he is deadly. Coming across the field and catching the ball at full speed. He turns towards the endzone as fast as anyone, and fights his way into the endzone (2:51). Here he is blocking the D-End long enough for the RB to get 5-Yards. He wasnít able to turn the D-End at all, and that hurt him, as he tried to keep him outside (3:28). He does a nice job coming off low and getting his hands up. He starts to turn and has inside position (3:37). However, he allows the D-End to grab his hand and wrist, so he canít get his hands on his shirt. The D-End quickly turns his block into patty-cake, and then tosses his arms aside and burst inside. He will allow that to happen less the more experience he gets as a blocker.

He does an excellent job picking up the blitzer. You cannot pass block on the edge any better than that (3:44). Here we go Short yardage against a top D-End. That is an excellent block. Clark jumps inside of him with his elite burst. However, Niklas is still able to get his hands inside his shirt and not allows him to stop. He actually drives him straight down the line and collapses it. This gives the RB a great cut back lane for the first down (3:50). Remember, most tight ends are not asked to block D-Ends. He has been asked to block a D-End on almost every down. If you can get a TE to block a D-End in the run or pass, you add a lot of versatility to the offense. So his struggling a little to block a D-End is not necessarily a bad thing, especially since he has only played offense for two years.

This is just a great play. He really does a nice job getting in a chip block and than getting down field for the pass. He knocks the D-End up, and leaves him perfectly for the ORT. Then he scoots into the middle for a middle screen. He did a terrible job following his blockers. You can see his nice speed as he runs by two O-linemen and gets himself tackled short of the first down (3:59). See how he just runs by the OG who is trying to block the little guy. That is just bad.

He does struggle to block on the edge on Screens sometimes (4:21). He is so good running Outs (4:28). What is better than a tight end making a big play going down the Seam on 3rd down (4:36). Itís funny how the more physical the LB try to get in coverage the more open he gets. Then the QB goes high and it is an easy first down (4:47). Another first down off a nice Seam route (4:58). Plus, canít you just picture Edelman or Amendola crossing underneath that route. Brady would have a field day.

 

Niklas Vs Michigan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g10YtM1Qjk

 

Official Stats:

Niklas' HONORS & AWARDS

ē 2013 Mackey Award Watch List

niklas' career highs

Points scored: 6, at Boston College, Nov. 10, 2012

Touchdowns: 1, at Boston College, Nov. 10, 2012

Receptions: 1, 5 times

Receiving yards: 30, Purdue, Sept. 8, 2012 (1 receptions)

Receiving TDs: 1, at Boston College, Nov. 10, 2012

Long reception: 30, Purdue, Sept. 8, 2012

All-purpose yards: 30, Purdue, Sept. 8, 2012

Tackles: 4, Boston College, Nov. 19, 2011 (0-4)

Fumbles recovered: 1, Navy, Oct. 29, 2011

Niklas's Career Statistics

Tackles  
Year G-S TT UT AT TFL SCKS FF FR
2011 12-1 20 8 12 0.5-3 0.0 0.0 1
TOTALS 12-1 20 8 12 0.5-3 0.0 0.0 1

 

Receiving
Year G-S Rec Yds TD LG Rec/G Avg/C Avg/G
2012 13-7 5 75 1 30 .4 15 3.0
TOTAL 13-7 5 75 1 30 .4 15 3.0

SOPHOMORE SEASON (2012): Made the transition from outside linebacker to tight end during 2012 spring practice ... started seven of the team's 13 games at tight end (started first four games and also vs. Oklahoma, Boston College and Alabama) ... one of five Irish receivers to log multiple catches of 25 yards or more ... recorded his first career reception for 29 yards in the win over Navy (Sept. 1) ... added one catch for a season-long 30 yards against Purdue (Sept. 8) ... had one reception for seven yards against Miami (Oct. 6) in the decisive 41-3 rout ... scored his first career touchdown on a seven-yard reception at Boston College (Nov. 10) ... became the 10th Notre Dame player, and second tight end, to find the end zone in 2012 with the score against the Eagles.

FRESHMAN SEASON (2011): Played in 12 games for the Irish as an outside linebacker, starting the game against Michigan State ... tallied career-high four tackles and one-half tackle for loss in win vs. Boston College ... recorded two tackles and first career fumble recovery in a win vs. Navy ... registered three tackles in start against the Spartans.

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