19

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Troy Niklas

Player Information:

Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame, 6-6, 270 pounds

Hometown: Fullerton, CA

 

Troy Niklas' physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him "Hercules."

Troy Niklas’ physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him “Hercules.”

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.84

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 27 reps

Broad jump: 9’06″

News and Notes:

Began his career at Notre Dame as an outside linebacker and started one game as a freshman. … One of five Notre Dame receivers to tally multiple catches of 25 yards or more in 2012 … Had a career-high six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in a  41-30 loss at Michigan on Sept. 7, 2013.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Prototypical build for today’s matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field. Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
  • NFL.com:   Work in progress as an in-line blocker — lacks ideal base strength, grip strength and overall body power. Bends at the waist and falls off some blocks. Route running needs refinement. Is still learning to use his frame advantageously — inconsistent traffic player. Lacks elite top-end speed. Average elusiveness and creativity after the catch. Could stand to play with more physicality and become a better finisher

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • This is a highlight reel so don’t forget, it doesn’t show the plays he missed.
  • It is scary how much Niklas resembles Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
  • Does a good job of coming back to the ball.
  • Has developed soft hands after transitioning over from defense.
  • Sheds and can give blocks with ease.
  • Is a little slow getting out of his break, which forces him to post-up his huge frame.

If drafted by the Packers:

6

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame

Tyler Eifert

Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: TE Tyler Eifert

Player Information:

Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
6-6, 250 pounds
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN

STATS: College statistics

NFL Combine:

40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds
Bench press: 22 reps
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches
Broad jump: 119 inches
3-cone drill: 6.92 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.32 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.52 seconds

News and Notes:

Production was somewhat hurt in 2012 by having a freshman QB and constant double teams. … Still led Notre Dame with 50 catches for 685 yards and four touchdowns to win the Mackey Award as the nation’s top TE. … Caught 63 passes for 803 yards in 2011. … Son of former Purdue basketball player Greg Eifert.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • WalterFootball.com: “Eifert is an NFL-ready pass catcher. He has good speed running down the middle seam with excellent hands. Eifert is fearless leaping in the middle of the field to make tough catches despite knowing that massive hits are coming his direction. He showed real toughness for the Fighting Irish. Eifert is very good on third down to help move the chains. He gains separation on linebackers and is too big for defensive backs. Eifert should be a real contributor in the passing game early in his NFL career..”
  • NFL.com: ”Still growing as a blocker and needs to use better angles. Stronger linebackers will rip off his blocks and ride him off his route when he does not use his hands effectively. Allows throws into his body on occasion, will drop the ball when trying to run before securing.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • I like what I see when Eifert blocks on the second and third levels against smaller linebackers and defensive backs. He doesn’t lunge or whiff often.
  • Blocking DEs/OLBs is a different story. He doesn’t seem to have the size to hold up or the quickness to make reach blocks.
  • I really like what I see on his routes. He’s fast and works well in traffic.
  • I can also see Eifert doing some damage on seam routes against slower LBs and safeties, or even against small slot corners.
  • Uses his height and lanky frame well. Goes up and grabs passes with his hands.
  • His quickness off the line should help him get into his routes early against press coverage.
26

April

Green Bay Packers Draft Matchup: CB Janoris Jenkins vs. S Harrison Smith

Janoris Jenkins

North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins

I highly doubt CB Janoris Jenkins will still be avaliable when the Packers pick late in the first round of the NFL draft, but if he is, Ted Thompson has an interesting decision to make.

On paper, Jenkins vs. Harrison Smith is a complete mismatch. Jenkins is by far the more talented and superior player. But when you factor in concerns about Jenkins off the field and the Packers need for a safety after releasing Nick Collins, the matchup becomes closer.

Jenkins is a cocky, in-your-face, man-to-man, physical cover corner. You can put him on an island against any WR and he’s not going to back down. He’ll take on whomever he’s asked to cover, not ask for any help, and have a good chance of winning the battle.

Smith is one of the better safeties in a weak safety class and almost plays like an extra linebacker. I don’t see him as a guy who can cover the field against deep passing attacks, but I do think he’ll be good in the box against the run and as a blitzer. Think of him sort of as a lite version of Charles Woodson.

If Jenkins and Smith are still out there when the Packers pick (I’m 99 percent sure Smith will be), I think the Packers should take Jenkins. I know Jenkins’ off-field issues don’t make him “Packer People,” but he’s too talented to pass up, especially as QBs, WRs and TEs continue to get better in the NFC North. Yes, Jenkins has character issues, but Mike McCarthy, Charles Woodson and others in the Packers organization should be able to help Jenkins in that area as long as he shows a willingness to work hard on the field and make a few changes off of it.

(Side note: People who know a lot more about this sort of stuff than I do seem to think that Jenkins will be around late in the first, maybe even into the second round.)

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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18

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Harrison Smith

Notre Dame S Harrison Smith

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Harrison Smith

Player information:

  • Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
  • 6-foot-2, 213lbs
  • Of the strong and free safeties given a top 125 grade by NFLDraftScout.com prior to the Combine, only Smith (4.57) recorded a time under 4.66.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.57 40yd dash
  • 4.12 20 yard shuttle
  • 6.63 3-cone drill
  • 10.02′ long jump
  • 34″ vertical jump
  • 19 bench press reps

News & Notes:

One of the highest rated safeties in a draft considered extremely weak at the position. …. Intercepted seven passes as a junior, zero as a senior. … Appears suited to play the run well, but struggle in pass coverage. Not a good sign in a league where tight ends are only getting better. … Only player in Notre Dame history to register more than 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.

What they’re saying about him:

Dane Brugler (CBS Sports)  ”Plays stiff. Needs to be a more technically-sound tackler, often going for the knockout hit or forced fumble instead of wrapping up. Hits too high and loses leverage, allowing ballcarriers to pick up extra yards.”

National Football Post:   “Isn’t a guy you want to trust to run with receivers down the field. However, because of his solid natural range and instincts, I can see him getting over the top and making plays in a center field type role as an NFL strong safety.”

NFL DraftSeason.com (Will Lomas): “As far as the safety class goes this one is relatively weak, but (Smith) provides good value on day two and can fill a need on a team that has good corners but needs to upgrade their run D.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Can definitely close. When he comes at you, look out
  • Looks comfortable blitzing, which should make Dom Capers happy
  • Tough to judge his pass coverage on this video since he’s off the screen on most pass plays, but I did notice a few instances where he didn’t get deep enough in zone coverage
  • Does show a nose for the ball, though, if he winds up near the ball
  • I could see his playmaking ability meshing well with the Packers defense. Worth a shot in round three, perhaps.