The 2014 NFL Draft class is one of the deepest in recent history. At almost every position one can find quality depth, if not a starting caliber player in the mid to later rounds. Tight End is no exception. Enter C.J. Fiedorowicz out of the University of Iowa. The 6’7”, 265 pound prospect was one of the most efficient blocking Tight End’s in the country.
In the Hawkeye offense blocking was his main role and he was a great one. But Fiedorowicz was never given much opportunity to showcase his abilities in the passing game. C.J. was able to showcase ALL his skills at the Senior Bowl, Iowa’s Pro Day, and the NFL Combine. He ran clean routes and caught almost everything thrown his direction. His 4.26s 20-yard shuttle time was the best of all Tight End’s at the Combine. In addition, he posted the most reps of 225 pounds (25 times) and best 3-cone drill time (7.10s).
C.J. has outstanding size and large hands. He can seal blocks on the edge, controls his body wel,l and can spread the field in the passing game. He is an instant threat in the red zone, as well as up the seam of defenses. C.J. is a hard nosed player and knows how to create separation between himself and the defender. TFE had the opportunity to briefly interview C.J. and below is a transcript of our conversation.
1. You were predominantly a blocking Tight End at Iowa. How important was it for you to show scouts you could also catch the ball at the Senior Bowl, Pro Day and NFL Combine?
It’s huge for not only me, but the team that plans to utilize me. I have natural catching ability and blocking skills that are crucial for Offenses that run up the field.
2. How does the NFL Draft process compare to the NCAA recruiting process?
It’s kind of similar as far as visiting teams. Both bring you to their facilities and demonstrate what they have to offer you. But the process is a lot different because heavy training is involved at the Senior Bowl, Pro Day and NFL Combine. Also, it is different from recruitment because you directly show teams your talents.
3. What are your expectations for your rookie year? Do you have specific goals you want to reach?
I want to work myself into a starting role with my future team. It’s crucial to earn live snaps and impliment an offensive playbook early on. My goal is to have game experience, not only learning on the bench from a #1 Tight End.
4. The Draft is only 23 days away. What do you think is going to go through your mind when you hear your name called?
I don’t even know what my reaction will be. I might cry. To see my family and friends with me after all I’ve gone through is important.
5. You must have a preference of which team drafts you, right? Perhaps after visiting teams individually, have those preferences changed?
I mean, I’d like to play close to home if I had my choice. That way my family and friends could attend games and see me play. I’d like to play for a team with a dedicated fan base and a winning history.
6. Is there a Tight End you’ve modeled your play after or think you’re most comparable to?
Rob Gronkowski. He can block well and stretch the field. Rob makes a ton of plays on the field. We definitely have the same size and utilize similar tools.
7. How important is it for you to land in the right offensive system? Do you prefer a certain scheme?
I don’t have a preference on scheme. I can play wherever a team that needs their Tight End to be.
8. What separates you from other Tight End’s in the 2014 Draft class?
Well, I’m a guy who can dominate the line of scrimmage and make a difference in the passing game. On 3rd downs, I can use my reliable hands to go out there and make a play when it counts most.
9. How much of an emphasis do you place on team building camaraderie and community related activities?
At Iowa, we attended some events together as a team. I remember going to a children’s hospital and giving football expertise to football academies. Giving back is definitely important to me.
10. Is there anything you feel has been left unsaid that you want to share with the TFE reading audience?
When I get to the NFL, I’m going to work hard and give everything I have to my team. I want to not only succeed, but prove to everybody that I’m not only a blocking Tight End.
Thank you for your time, C.J.! We wish you the best come Draft day and the rest of your football career!
Hey, thank you guys! Nice speaking with you, Josh.
From our phone conversation, it’s easy to tell C.J. is a likable guy and will fit seamlessly into an NFL locker room. He’s very talented and a potential dual threat NFL Tight End. He’s currently projected a 3rd or 4th round draft pick by the “experts” educated guessers and ranked behind Eric Ebron (North Carolina), Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington), and Troy Niklas (Notre Dame). But nobody will ever truly know what an organization thinks about a certain player because they hold their cards so close to their chest. Based upon what I’ve seen and the above conversation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see C.J. Fiedorowicz drafted higher than one of those ranked ahead of him.
Follow Josh Elkin on Twitter @JoshElkin.