Pro Career: The Cardinals second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft, Niklas has appeared in 23 games (four starts) in his first two seasons.
The Cardinals second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft, Niklas has appeared in 23 games (four starts) in his first two seasons.
2015: Played in all 16 games with three starts, catching four passes for 33 yards and two TDs … also a key special teams contributor with four tackles … started as part of three-TE formation vs. StL (10/4) … had first catch of the season with a 13-yard reception in the third quarter @ Pit (10/18) … scored the first two TDs of his career @ Cle (11/1), catching an 11-yard TD on the opening drive of the game and then a one-yard scoring pass in the third quarter that proved to be the game-winner; became first Cardinals TE since Leonard Pope (2 vs. Det, 11/11/07) with multiple receiving TDs in a game … started for the injured Jermaine Gresham vs. Min (12/10) … posted a team-leading three special teams tackles @ Phi (12/20) … had an eight-yard reception vs. Sea (1/3/16) … played on special teams in Divisional Playoff vs. GB (1/16/16) and NFC Championship Game @ Car (1/24/16).
2014: Appeared in seven games (one start) before going on injured reserve … had three catches for 38 yards and two special teams tackles … made NFL debut vs. SD (9/8) … collected first career reception with a 16-yard catch in the fourth quarter and had one special teams tackle @ NYG (9/14) … had one special teams tackle @ Den (10/5); left the game with an ankle injury … inactive (ankle) the next three games … returned to action @ Dal (11/2) … made first career start and had a 17-yard reception in the third quarter vs. StL (11/9) … recorded a five-yard reception vs. Det (11/16); left the game in the second half with an ankle injury … placed on injured reserve (ankle) on 11/18.
College: After beginning his career at Notre Dame as an outside linebacker, made the transition to TE prior to his sophomore season and went on to become one of college’s football’s best blocking TEs … started 20 of 26 games at TE played in two seasons, hauling in 37 passes for 573 yards and six TDs … was a first-team FBS All-Independent team selection and a semifinalist for the Mackey Award as the nation’s top TE … a semifinalist for the Mackey Award as a junior in ‘13, was one of just four offensive players to start every game for the Irish … finished third on the team with a career-high 32 receptions for 498 yards (15.6 avg.) and five TDs, grabbing 61.5 percent of the 52 passes targeted to him … 24 of his catches produced first downs and 18 of his catches gained at least 10 yards, including 10 for 20 yards or longer … made the transition from OLB to TE during 2012 spring practice and went on to start seven of 13 games at TE as a sophomore ... one of five Irish players to log multiple catches of 25 yards or more ... gained 75 yards on five receptions, including his first career TD … scored his first career TD on a seven-yard reception at Boston College … as a freshman in ’11, played in 12 games for the Irish as an OLB, including one start vs. Michigan State ... recorded 20 tackles (eight solos), a tackle for loss, two QB pressures and a fumble recovery.
Personal: Attended Servite (Anaheim, CA) High School where he helped the team to the Trinity League title as a sophomore and the 2009 California state title as a junior … named the Los Angeles Times lineman of the year as a senior in 2010 when the two-way standout played both guard and defensive tackle, helping the team compile a 14-1 record, their second straight CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division title and runner-up in the state playoffs … also named co-Lineman of the Year in the Trinity League by the Orange County Register … on defense, he received All-CIF Southern Section Pac-5 honors from the Orange County Register and was a first-team all-county selection, along with being a two-time first-team all-Trinity League honoree … as a junior, also appeared at TE and caught 16 passes for 128 yards and three TDs … uncle is Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, the 19-year NFL vet and 14-time Pro Bowler selected in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1983 draft by the Houston Oilers … his cousin, Jake Matthews, was a two-time All-American offensive tackle from Texas A&M who was drafted by the Falcons in the first round (sixth overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft … his other cousin, Kevin, was also an offensive lineman for Texas A&M, and although he was not drafted coming out of college in 2010, he suited up for both Tennessee and Washington the last three seasons … was enrolled in Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, majoring in Management Entrepreneurship.