SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Troy Niklas had Notre Dame request an NFL Draft evaluation for him, though he hardly intends to turn pro after the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl.
Instead, Niklas will use the contents of the evaluation to improve his game for 2014, which will be his final season with Notre Dame. It's the same process Tyler Eifert went through after the 2011 season -- despite his excellent pass-catching credentials, he was projected as a third-round pick due to less-than-ideal blocking skills.
Eifert returned to Notre Dame for his senior season and put an emphasis on improving that aspect of his game, and wound up being a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Niklas plans to look over his evaluation after Notre Dame's bowl game, giving him a full year to develop his game in preparation for the next level.
"I think it's a really good learning experience, see what they have to say, what they think I can improve on for next year," Niklas said.
Niklas emerged as an elite red zone weapon in the first half of the 2013 season, catching five touchdowns in Notre Dame's first seven games. But he hasn't had a touchdown since Oct. 19's game against USC, though coach Brian Kelly didn't necessarily see that as a knock against him.
"He does so much for us -- eight sacks (allowed) this year, and he's a big reason why," Kelly said, referencing Niklas' blocking ability. "If you're looking at all the jobs he does for us during the game, if he's not catching the ball he's extremely effective for us in other areas.
"I wouldn't necessary point toward him not catching balls for being less effective. We're just not getting him the ball maybe as much as maybe we should."