The Arizona Cardinals made three selections on Friday in the NFL Draft. They got Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin and Pittsburg State receiver John Brown.
Here are some facts about the picks.
A TIGHT END IN ROUND TWO
With the 52nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cardinals selected Notre Dame TE TROY NIKLAS. The fourth TE selected in the draft, Niklas was also the third Notre Dame player taken in 2014.
Taken in the second round, Niklas is the highest drafted TE for the Cardinals since the team selected Auburn’s Walter Reeves with the 40th selection in 1989.
Niklas was a teammate of Cardinals WR Michael Floyd for one season (2011) at Notre Dame, but did not play on the same side of the ball. Niklas played his lone season at outside linebacker that year.
NIKLAS AND THE FIGHTING IRISH
Niklas entered Notre Dame in 2011 as an outside linebacker before switching sides of the ball to tight end prior to his sophomore season in 2012. He went on to start seven of the team’s 13 games as a sophomore, posting 75 yards on five receptions and a TD.
As a junior in 2013, he was a Mackey Award semi-finalist (nation’s top TE) and one of four offensive players to start every game for the Irish, finishing the season with 32 receptions for 498 yards and five TDs. Niklas grabbed an impressive 61.5 percent of 52 passes targeted to him while also being widely considered among the best blocking TEs in the nation.
During his two seasons at TE, Niklas registered 76 knockdown blocks, 21 downfield blocks and six blocks that resulted directly in TDs.
Niklas Notre Dame Receiving Stats
Receiving Statistics 2012 2013
Receptions 5 32
Receiving Yards 75 498
Touchdowns 1 5
Longest Reception 30 66
While at outside linebacker as a freshman, he saw action in 12 games with one start and posted 20 total tackles, including eight solo tackles.
KEEPING TRADITION ALIVE
Dating back to 2006, Niklas becomes the fifth Notre Dame TE selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, a group that also includes current Cardinals TE John Carlson.
Notre Dame TEs Taken in First Two Rounds (2006-14)
Year Player Rnd (Overall) Team
2014 Troy Niklas 2 (52nd) Arizona
2013 Tyler Eifert 1 (21st) Cincinnati
2011 Kyle Rudolph 2 (42nd) Minnesota
2008 John Carlson 2 (38th) Seattle
2006 Anthony Fasano 2 (53rd) Dallas
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
Niklas’ uncle is Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, the 19-year NFL vet and 14-time Pro Bowler who was selected in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 draft by the Houston Oilers. His cousin (Bruce’s son), Jake Matthews, is the two-time All-American offensive tackle from Texas A&M who was drafted by the Falcons in the first round (6th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. His other cousin (Jake’s oldest brother), 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.
During his senior season at Notre Dame, 24 of his catches produced first downs, including six third down conversions and another on fourth-down.
Niklas was a big factor in the Fighting Irish producing big plays. He had 18 catches for at least 10 yards, including 10 for 20 yards or longer.
CARDS PICK UP MARTIN WITH FIRST PICK IN ROUND THREE
With the 84th overall selection, Arizona picked North Carolina DE KAREEM MARTIN, the second North Carolina player drafted in 2014 and the 16th Tar Heel player ever selected by the Cardinals in the NFL Draft. Martin was a teammate of Cardinals 2013 first round draft pick (7th overall) G Jonathan Cooper from 2010 through 2012 at North Carolina.
Taken by Arizona in the third round, Martin becomes the fifth North Carolina defensive lineman to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft over the last four years.
North Carolina D-Linemen Drafted in First Three Rounds (2011-14)
Year Player Rnd (Overall) Team
2014 DE Kareem Martin 3 (84th) Arizona
2013 DT Sylvester Williams 1 (28th) Denver
2012 DE Quinton Coples 1 (16th) NY Jets
2011 DE Robert Quinn 1 (14th) St. Louis
DT Marvin Austin 2 (52nd) NY Giants
Martin became the first defensive lineman taken in the NFL Draft by the Cardinals since 2011 and the first defensive lineman taken in the first three rounds since Dan Williams (26th overall) in 2010.
PROTECTING THE WEAK SIDE
Martin started 41 of 49 games during his four-year career at North Carolina, primarily as the weak side defensive end recording 178 tackles (92 solo) and 19.5 sacks for 132 yards and 45.5 stops for loss.
During his collegiate career, he recorded 13 passes defensed, forced four fumbles and added four fumble recoveries.
With an impressive senior season, Martin’s 21.5 stops-for-loss ranked 16th on the ACC season-record list and is sixth on North Carolina’s annual chart. His 11.5 sacks as a senior positioned him fourth on the school’s list.
Martin Career Statistics
Statistics 2010 2011 2012 2013
Tackles 16 40 40 82
Solo Tackles 7 20 19 46
Assisted Tackles 9 20 21 36
Tackles for Loss 1.5 7.0 15.5 21.5
Sacks 0.0 4.0 4.0 11.5
CARDS TAKE BROWN FROM PITTSBURG STATE
With the their second pick of the third round – the 91st overall selection which was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in the first round trade – the Cardinals selected Pittsburg State WR JOHN BROWN. He becomes the second Pittsburg State player ever selected by the Cardinals, joining RB Ronald Moore, who was taken in the third round (87th overall) by the Cardinals in 1993.
Prior to Brown’s selection on Friday, Moore was the last Pittsburg State player selected in the NFL Draft. Brown became the sixth Gorilla player selected in the draft all-time.
Pittsburg State is a Division II school located in Pittsburg, Kansas. The school’s football team has been around since 1908.
At the 2014 NFL Combine, Brown ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, which ranked as the third-fastest time of any player at the event behind WR Brandin Cooks (4.33) and RB Dri Archer (4.26).
For his career at Pittsburg State, Brown accumulated 6,244 all-purpose yards and 45 TDs. He totaled 185 receptions for 3,387 yards and 34 TDs, 48 rushing attempts for 394 yards and six TDs, 78 punt returns for 1,063 yards and three TDs, and 52 kickoff returns for 1,400 yards and two TDs.
Brown began his collegiate career playing one season at Mars Hill College (2008) before transferring to Coffeyville Community College where he redshirted in 2010 before transferring to Pittsburg State.
MAN OF MANY ACCOLADES
Brown was a three-time Associated Press Little All-American as an all-purpose player. Below is a look at the accolades he accumulated while at Pittsburg State:
- 2013 MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year
- 2013 Associated Press second-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
- 2013 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and wide receiver
- 2012 Associated Press First-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
- 2012 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and wide receiver
- 2011 Associated Press second-team Little All-American All-Purpose player
- 2011 First-team All-MIAA kick returner and second-team wide receiver
REACHING OUTSIDE DIVISION I-A
Brown becomes the 13th player the Cardinals have selected from schools outside of Division I-A dating back to 2002, including 10 in the last eight drafts (2007-14). Arizona has now selected at least one player from a school outside of Division I-A in seven of the last eight drafts.
Player Pos Yr Drafted Round (Pick) College
John Brown WR 2014 3rd (91st) Pittsburg State
Earl Watford G 2013 4th (116th) James Madison
Justin Bethel S 2012 6th (177th) Presbyterian
Andre Roberts WR 2010 3rd (88th) The Citadel
John Skelton QB 2010 5th (155th) Fordham
Greg Toler CB 2009 4th (131st) Saint Paul’s (VA) College
D. Rodgers-Cromartie CB 2008 1st (16th) Tennessee St
Tim Hightower RB 2008 5th (149th) Richmond
Brandon Keith T 2008 7th (225th) Northern Iowa
Ben Patrick TE 2007 7th (215th) Delaware
LeRon McCoy WR 2005 7th (226th) Indiana (PA)
Reggie Wells G 2003 6th (177th) Clarion (PA)
Josh McCown QB 2002 3rd (81st) Sam Houston St.
ARIANS PRAISES HIS NEW RECEIVER
“He’s kind of a combination, having had Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh and T.Y. Hilton the last two years; he’s kind of a combination of those two types of guys. Very explosive once he touches the ball, but fearless going over the middle. If he’s on the outside, you better give him a cushion, and he’s going to take the top off at any point in time.”
A LOOK AT DAY THREE
With the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft complete, the Cardinals enter the final day with three picks over the final four rounds. Arizona enters the day without a pick in the seventh round after dealing that selection to the Oakland Raiders last year in the trade for QB Carson Palmer. Below are Arizona’s scheduled selections for Saturday:
Round Round # Overall #
4 20th 120th
5 20th 160th
6 20th 196th