Ravens draft primer: Troy Niklas

With four days until the NFL draft begins, here is another potential draft prospect for the Baltimore Ravens:


Position: Tight end

School: Notre Dame

Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 270 pounds

Round projection: Second or third round

File this away: Niklas' uncle is Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.

Good: Niklas has the potential to be the most complete tight end in this draft. His size, athleticism, receiving ability and blocking ability makes him a throwback at the position. Niklas is considered the best blocking tight end in this draft class. He is a big target in the red zone and on underneath patterns. Niklas doesn't show any fear going over the middle and runs hard after the catch. He comes from a school that has a good track record with tight ends: John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert.

Bad: Niklas is a work-in-progress because he's only played tight end for two seasons after converting from outside linebacker. He needs development as a route runner. Niklas doesn't have top-end speed, so he's not going to consistently stretch the field.

Bottom line: The Ravens need a young tight end because Owen Daniels is on a one-year deal. Niklas' size and strength as a blocker makes him a good compliment to Dennis Pitta. Niklas would be a great value pick in the third round, although it's uncertain that he'll last that long. The Ravens had a pre-draft visit with Niklas.

What Niklas said: "I think that's the thing that differentiates myself. I'm not only an effective blocker. But I'm a pretty effective pass-catcher and route runner, also. That's one of the things coaches don't see a lot of. You see guys who are just blockers or just route runners."