The Hercules Saga (Troy Niklas a potential Patriot, part 3: Niklas the receiver)

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

continuation from The Hercules Saga (Troy Niklas, potential patriot, part2)

2. Is Niklas a capable receiver??

  • Outstanding physical built to bully up on Linebackers and Safetys when fighting for the catch
  • Good leaping ability
  • Good hands
  • Although being still a work in progress (on route running), Niklas ran Corners, Delay screens, Digs, Flats, Out, Posts,Slants and some Wheels. Yet the Seams routes and the Stick/options seem to be the specialty of the house.
  • YAC fighter, really tough guy to bring down
  • Notable red zone target
  • Not a speeder, but a sneaky TE
  • Lacks body control when fighting ball in the air
  • Though he has a complete arsenal of routes for a TE, he needs more experience on this matter in order to master them.

A. Route repertory:

a) Corner:

30 yard TD out from a play action design. The post route of the outside receiver is critical to free up space for Niklas flag.


Other angle, same play


b) Delay screen:

on both of the gifs, Niklas tries to punish whatever comes in front of him. His yards after the catch are just something to note.

b.1) Empty backfield play, note that, had the center or the LG done better job heading the convoy, the result of the play would have been way better. At the end of the play Niklas contributes with 13 YAC.


b.2) As usual, they are selling the run here, Niklas does his blocking delay and gets the ball about 4 or 5 yards after the LOS. (after #18 TE Koyack cleans it up for him, taking away with him the CB near of the LOS), just to feast on with 15 YAC. Not an easy target to bring down. Violent carrier all the way till the end.


c) Dig:

Working greatly on the seam, he runs aprox.14 yards downfield and cuts inside just to get the ball before the 2 safeties clean up the mess. Niklas knew that the 2 safeties were high, so once past the LB, it was cake. Note the physicality with he ends up the play, always lowering his sholders in search of more YAC. A 28 yards play (11 yards after the catch).


same play, other angle:


d) Out :

10 yards deep and then a cut out in front of the SS, all success on the play is up to Niklas speed and size to gain the position.



Niklas specialty of the house, here is where his physicality and quickness impose over the less physically gifted LB and safety.

a) 26 yards on the play (14 YAC), coming out from the slot, Niklas does and inside/outside move on the LB who tries to cover him, once the LB is off the play, the safety makes the tackle.


b) 66 yard TD (50YAC) from a go. Again beating up the LB, and this time the safety too.


c) 21 yards on the play (8 YAC), as usual a streak patern, outbursting the LB. Its a perfect pass intended to Niklas outstanding height and leaping ability.



a) 3 step slant out from a bootleg play. The LB left behind as usual, safety makes the tackle


b) 20 Yard TD: Splitting the field right from the LOS, cutting through the pair of LB on a defense playing soft zone. Punishing the safety with decision at the end of the play.


g) Stick

The stick/option has always been a favorite route for any TE, almost imposible to defend by any LB or safety s surrounding the area. And Niklas isnt the exception:

a) 10 yard play (7 yard stick), 4 guys to bring him down (LB,CB,S,LB)


b) On such strong Tight ends, the stick/option is a nightmare to defend. This kind of route is the daily bread for them (along with the seam ones). Again half defensive team trying to tackle down Niklas.


h) Wheel:

This one is great, check out Niklas split inside the numbers, while ND WR #10 (Daniels) does all the dirty work ( cleaning up the CB and the LB, and the SS later on the play), Niklas does his part, bursting out to the sideline. A 31 yards play (8YAC) on this beautiful acrobatic play.


B. Red Zone Target

This aspect along with the short-intermediate passing game are where Niklas weights even more. Nightmare prototype tight ends excell here, and Niklas isnt the exception. In fact, it happens that Patriots do also lack badly another big chess piece to move along with Gronk (or without, when hes injured, wish this year not be the case) through the last 20 yards.

a) Hanging down the lamp TD.


b) Although next one is a broken play, its an absurd physical contrast between Niklas and Darby.


Some final thoughts.

This 2 year experienced behemoth has a lot of work to do, specially on polishing his routes and learning better control of his body when fighting a catch. He has all the tools in the world to become one of the best players in the league. However, in my humble opinion, i don't think he s that far from his potential. On this precisely moment he looks to me as the most well rounded guy, i mean he has not ASJ experience on the passing game nor Ebron s dynamic or speed, however when making inventory of his qualities, he looks like a Belichick TE (Hell of a blocker on both pass protection and run blocking, and a physical target as well).

I also think that he s ready to contribute, he s already a great blocker, and could also take on some of the load on the short-intermediate attack, and of course a go to target while in the red zone.

.....The "play actions" within the triangle: Brady, Gronkowsky and Niklas, could be a living hell for defenses. Something new below the sun.....

References: (Harris highlights)


The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.

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