Nov 2, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Troy Niklas (85) catches a pass for a first down in front of Navy Midshipmen linebacker Cody Peterson (53) in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 38-34. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
If there was a position on the Arizona Cardinals offense that was more scrutinized during the 2013 season than the quarterback position, it was tight ends. The Cards tights ends have been inconsistent over the years and that is putting it nicely. The current crop of Rob Housler, Jake Ballard, Jeff King, and Jim Dray haven’t exactly lit the world on fire.
Housler has only one touchdown in his career. In his career. He is so inconsistent receiving the ball. Ballard had bright moments and so did Dray in 2013, however it is a position I expect the Cards to address in the 2014 NFL Draft. Looking at the attendees of this years combine in a couple of weeks, here are the top three guys they should be looking at.
1 – Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: Projected as a second rounder, I’m not sure the Cards go after a tight end this high with greater needs but if they were this is the guy to look at. He broke the NCAA receiving record for tight ends. He’s big, powerful, can catch and make athletic moves after the catch. Sounds like a winner in my book.
2 – Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington: He has some off the field baggage and he isn’t as physical as Amaro, however the dude can catch. He is quick and provides a nice target for quarterbacks.
3 – Troy Niklas, Notre Dame: Another underclassman declaring for the draft, Niklas had five touchdowns in 2013 for the Fighting Irish. He has the height and good hands. He is also considered a good blocker. The biggest knock on him is his route running. That could be problematic in a Bruce Arians offense, however, his other skills could make him a catch in the third round if he’s available.
There are some other possibilities at tight end such as C.J. Fiedorowicz from Iowa or Arthur Lynch from Georgia but neither one of them are a better than average tight end and didn’t put up staggering numbers. If they don’t draft a tight end, there is always a chance to get an undrafted rookie free agent but the crop appears thin there. The highest ranked tight end is Eric Ebron from North Carolina. He’ll go in the first round and the Cards are not using their first rounder on a tight end, so forget about him.