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Player to Watch in 2013: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa

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C.J. Fiedorowicz's height and weight are actually identical to Rob Gronkowski, and his play on the field will likely draw the same comparison.

Christian Petersen

Name: C.J. Fiedorowicz
Position: TE
School: Iowa
Height / Weight: 6062 / 265 (unofficial)
Class: Sr.

2012 games viewed: vs. Purdue, @Michigan, vs. Nebraska

Positives

Imposing physical specimen ... Huge, body (and hand size) reminds me of Rob Gronkowski; in fact, they are the exact same height, down to the tenth of an inch, and weight ... Good route runner; sudden and quick at the stem, stutters feet and makes sharp cuts to create separation ... Rare athlete for his size; balanced, fluid and coordinated with body control ... Natural pass-catcher with big, soft, strong hands and perfect technique, extends away from body and plucks the ball ... Tracks the ball in the air, makes difficult catches smoothly (over-the-shoulder vs. Nebraska, 1Q, 4:54, 1st & 10) ... Excellent blocker, essentially an extra OT; latches on and doesn't let go, controls and moves target easily, creates gaping holes on run plays ... Lines up in-line and flexed out in the slot; a Y with F flashes, perfect for today's NFL

Negatives

Not slow off the line, but not especially quick either; release is inconsistent and initial movements are too deliberate ... Doesn't show wiggle or elusiveness to make defenders miss, YAC confined only to when he has open field ahead of him ... Doesn't break tackles like you'd expect given his size ... Play speed is probably ~4.7, above average but not explosive or dynamic ... Didn't attack the seam or downfield much, was used primarily as an underneath and intermediate receiver

Conclusion

Fiedorowicz first caught my eye, due to his reported size/weight/speed, while researching draft prospects last year. I don't have access to as much tape on him as I would prefer, but do feel comfortable forming an opinion. He's a Y with F capabilities, and I believe his size/skill set combo projects very well to the next level, especially with how the TE position has evolved. The stats aren't gaudy, but to me that's a function of the Iowa offense -- and subpar QB play -- more than anything, as it's not an explosive passing attack that maximizes Fiedorowicz's potential as a receiver. Size, athleticism, hands, route running and blocking stick out as strengths and make a Rob Gronkowski comparison natural, with inconsistent release off the line and YAC/tackle-breaking as the main negatives. At worst, Fiedorowicz is an exceptional #2 TE who will find his niche as a dominant blocker and red zone weapon, but I believe in his upside to be a star #1 TE. He is a popular "break out" season candidate for 2013, but even if that doesn't happen (or expectations aren't met), he's still a matchup nightmare and has all the tools to succeed. I maintain Fiedorowicz's enormous potential can be unlocked in a pro offense -- Chip Kelly's offense -- that takes advantage of his plus-plus blocking, versatility as a Y/F hybrid, and allows him to attack the seam/downfield more often.

Value: 2nd round (could easily see myself upping value to 1st round based on play in 2013)

Stats

2012: 12 GP, 45 REC, 433 (9.6 AVG / 45 LNG), 1 TD
2011: 13 GP, 16 REC, 167 YDS (10.4 AVG / 24 LNG), 3 TD

Background

DOB: October 22, 1991 ... Given name is Colton John ... Hometown: Johnsburg, Illinois ... High School: Johnsburg ... Highly-regarded recruit who turned down scholarship offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and LSU to commit to Iowa ... Accomplished HS basketball player who holds school's all-time record for career points scored ... Major: Pre-business