The Bills opened their pre-draft visit schedule with a pair of offensive prospects. Indiana WR Cody Latimer and Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas were hosted at One Bills Drive Tuesday.
Latimer told reporters at the Indiana pro day on March 26th that he had a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Bills. The Hoosiers wideout earned second team All-Big 10 honors this past season after rolling up 72 receptions for 1,096 yards to average just over 15 yards a reception (15.2) with nine touchdowns.
The junior eligible had foot surgery back on Jan. 19th to repair a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot by renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte. As a result he only participated in the bench press at the NFL combine, throwing up an impressive 23 reps, the most among the wide receiver contingent in Indianapolis.
Latimer (6-2, 215) silenced any who doubted his speed at the Indiana pro day clocking a 4.38 in the 40, which along with a 39-inch vertical and another 23 reps on the bench made for a solid performance.
The appeal for the Bills is likely Latimer's physical stature and strength, which helps him get off of press coverage effectively. He also is familiar with playing in an up tempo offense at Indiana.
"It's a great offense to be in, especially for a receiver," said Latimer of Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson's attack. "It lets you showcase your talents. There are so many ways to be open. The up-tempo tires DBs out a lot. We get in great shape with our sprint staff. It just gives you the ability to run
all the day on the field and make plays."
Latimer says he feels more comfortable on the outside as a receiver. He closed out his Indiana career tied for fourth in 100-yard games (seventh) and seventh in yardage (2,042) and receptions (135) on the school's all-time lists. He's forecast as a late day two or day three pick.
Niklas (6-6, 270) is blessed with a prototype frame for the physical mismatches NFL passing attacks are looking for in a tight end. He's also a more than capable blocker. With 10-inch hands, Nicklas can latch on and sustain effectively as an in line blocker, which is the role he filled for most of his first two collegiate seasons.
"I think it's good," said Niklas. "I can block and I enjoy blocking. I think that's something I can use to my advantage."
Forced to play behind Cincinnati Bengals 2013 first-round pick Tyler Eifert for most of his college career, Nicklas has only one season as a starter under his belt in college. He pulled in 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2013 to finish third on the team in receiving.
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Some NFL talent evaluators were surprised he decided to forgo his senior season and declare for the draft this year, but there is no question there's a lot of upside to Nicklas. The NFL Advisory Committee gave him a second round grade.
Niklas did not run at the NFL combine citing an undisclosed strain as the reason and also did not run at the Notre Dame pro day a month later. He did put up 27 reps on the bench in Indianapolis along with a 32-inch vertical, nine-foot six-inch broad jump and a 7.57 second three cone drill.