“TE Troy Niklas played well vs. Raiders, he’s become as much better blocker. He needs to stay healthy had some nagging injuries ever since the Cardinals drafted him. He looks a lot more confident & comfortable in the offense. BA on Niklas “He continues to press those other two guys (Gresham & Fells) for the starting job.”
— Courtesy of Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (click here for the article)
Niklas has long been on radars, ever since being selected by Arizona in the second round of the 2014 draft. Tight ends always seem slow to develop, though it’s been incredibly tough sledding in this case as he’s totaled 7 receptions for 71 yards in 23 games since being selected.
Of course he was an early round selection for a reason. It shouldn’t be surprising that his development has been slow, considering he had transitioned from the defensive side of the football in 2013, so he obviously was going to be a work in progress. Considering his size (6’6” and 270 lbs.), it also shouldn’t be surprising that he now could be emerging as a potential force.
He could easily emerge as the main red zone threat, and in a high-powered offense that makes him extremely dangerous. Remember, at the time he was selected NFL.com said:
“He boasts an intriguing combination of size, athleticism, receiving ability and blocking ability to develop into a bona fide, balanced, No. 1 tight end. Has played tight end for just two years and is clearly ascending.”
Considering the questionable names ahead of him, this should be the season that Niklas emerges as a viable option. Obviously there are only so many balls to go around, with the talent at wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown & Michael Floyd) and at running back, but Gresham and Fells combined for 39 receptions, 534 yards and 4 TD. If most of that production falls to Niklas he’d be a TE2, but with the potential to exceed those numbers on his own he’s well worth keeping a close eye on.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com