Cardinals take Notre Dame tight end Niklas in second round
MAY 09, 2014 8:59p ET
While the fan base was waiting for an outside linebacker, a quarterback or an offensive tackle, the Cardinals filled one of their biggest needs on offense with their first pick of the second round, taking Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas.
Niklas is huge at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds and will fill a need for a blocking tight end after Jim Dray departed in free agency, signing a three-year, $5.62 million contract with the Browns in March.
Arizona State fans will remember that Niklas had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in a 37-34 Notre Dame win over the Sun Devils at Cowboys Stadium on Oct. 5. But ASU coach Todd Graham gushed at the time about how effective Niklas was in the blocking aspect of the game, manhandling the Sun Devils' defensive front and blitzers.
Niklas, who left school after his junior season, is still considered raw in the receiving game, although he caught 32 passes for 498 yards and five TDs last year. While a blocking tight end may not be a sexy pick, the Cards do not have a great fit there. Rob Housler and free-agent signee John Carlson are receiving tight ends; Andre Hardy, Brett Brackett and Darren Fells are raw; and Jake Ballard is somewhere in between.
Niklas has been a tight end for only two years. He was an outside linebacker/defensive end in his first year in South Bend and is considered a good athlete. He elected not to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and did not work out at Notre Dame's pro day because of double-hernia surgery performed on March 11.
Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter