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Road to the draft: Troy Niklas

Position: Tight end
School: Notre Dame
Measurements: 6-foot-6, 270 pounds
40 time: N/A. Bench press: 27 reps of 225 pounds. Vertical jump: 32 inches. Broad jump: 114 inches. 60-yard shuttle: 12.19 seconds.
Career stats: 37 catches, 573 yards, six touchdowns.
Draft projection: Second or third round.

Lowdown: In a word: Potential. Niklas is loaded with it. For starters, he's been a tight end for only two seasons, after playing outside linebacker for the Irish as a freshman in 2011. The name most often used as a comparison for him: Amherst native and Patriots star Rob Gronkowski. That's mostly based on their blocking ability -- Niklas is a pro-ready in that regard; he played about 75 percent of his snaps on the line of scrimmage. Underrated athlete who provides a huge, Gronk-like target in the red zone and over the middle. Better after the catch than he gets credit for. His size alone makes him tough to bring down. According to a Rotoworld study, averaged 6.41 yards after the catch in 2013, a number that's near the top of this year's tight end class. ... Is understandably still learning the position, especially in his route running. ... Good bloodlines -- his uncle is Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. ... Has the nickname "Hercules." That's never a bad thing for a team.

He said it: "I think we're pretty stacked. There are a lot of good ones coming out this year. It should be real competitive. I'm looking forward to it." -- on the 2014 tight end class

The Buffalo News is profiling 50 prospects leading up to the NFL Draft, which begins May 8.

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