TE Troy Niklas no doubt one of the players Mike Tomlin is looking at during Notre Dame pro day. #Steelers— Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) March 20, 2014
There are really two things that stand out when watching Troy Niklas, the Notre Dame tight end the Steelers' brass, including Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, were speaking with at Notre Dame's Pro day Thursday.
One, he's a big dude. Standing a shade over 6-foot-6 and weighing 270 pounds at 21 years of age, he could have been an offensive tackle. He started his career at Notre Dame at outside linebacker. It seems like he could have gone in either direction but in the end, his coaches split the difference and put him at tight end.
Two, he really looks like a Matthews. As lame a thing as that is to say, in terms of movement, he looks like his cousins Clay and Casey, both NFL linebackers. He even flashes some Jake, the highly touted offensive tackle (another cousin) likely to be a top 10 pick in the same draft.
He is still likely to fall under the "project" label but what a perfect time for the Steelers to grab a project tight end. They just re-signed Heath Miller to a three-year deal and still have Matt Spaeth for another season. They also have basically nothing for third tight ends, after having watched David Johnson leave for San Diego, and David Paulson stay on the roster. (Update: Backup TE Michael Palmer was re-signed on a one-year deal, but that hardly rules out addressing the position in the draft)
The Steelers were in South Bend, Ind., looking at several players, no doubt, but there wasn't one who fits the Steelers' current needs as well as Niklas does, at first blush. Full breakdown coming soon, but his is a name to keep in mind for now.