Arizona Cardinals Buy or Sell: Troy Niklas becomes a starter

Arizona Cardinals Buy or Sell: Troy Niklas becomes a starter

Postautor: Angel92 » 8 sie 2017, o 09:19

Tight end Troy Niklas has had an underwhelming career thus far. Can the fourth-year Notre Dame alumn become the player the Arizona Cardinals want in 2017?
The day of the tight end has changed. Actually, it’s been changing ever since Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe gave the position a new outlook in the NFL. One player on the wrong side of the ever-changing game is fourth-year Arizona Cardinals player Troy Niklas — on the wrong side if you consider a big paycheck as the main goal which for some players is the main goal.
Niklas isn’t the same kind of tight end we’re used to watching. A millenial myself, I’m used to the tight ends that can outrun a linebacker and out-jump a cornerback. Something like what Gonzalez and Sharpe did in their day and what Antonio Gates and Rob Gronkowski have done in theirs.
You’re not going to get those types of plays out of Niklas, at least not on a week-to-week basis. He has yet to prove he can be a deep threat at the top level. In his three years as a pro, he has just eight receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. His longest reception went for just 17 yards which came in his rookie season.
People knew coming out of Notre Dame that Niklas wasn’t going to be a Gates or Gronkowski. He was recruited to play outside linebacker, but made the change to tight end after a year in school. Being that he declared after his junior season, he didn’t have much time at the position coming in. And he only caught 37 balls for 573 yards and six touchdowns in college.
Niklas was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The lack of production and time at the position didn’t scare away the Arizona Cardinals front office. Head coach Bruce Arians had just come off his first season at the helm, leading the team to their first winning record since the 2009 season. They had a need at tight end even, though Rob Housler had a respectable season in his own catching 39 passes for 454 yards.
It was the hopes and dreams that Niklas hadn’t just grown into the position yet (and maybe he still hasn’t) from a receiving perception. What he was looked at, though, was as a run blocker. One that could very well become the best run blocking tight end in the game.
After that same 2013 season, Arizona only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. The group as a whole averaged less than 97 yards on the ground a game. In Niklas’ rookie season it was worse as the running backs group averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and 82 yards per game. That year he received a -8.6 run-block rating from Pro Football Focus. All-in-all, the entire line struggled blocking for an inexperienced group consisting of Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams.
2015 was a different story for Arizona’s ground Bishop Sankey Jersey game. With rookie David Johnson in town and the addition of Chris Johnson, Niklas appeared in 16 games (starting three) as the Cardinals averaged almost 120 rushing yards per game. Niklas, however, continued to struggle.
Last season was much like the first two. While he escaped the injury bug in his sophomore campaign in the league, Niklas appeared in just three games in 2016 before he went down with a season-ending wrist injury.
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