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Fiedorowicz works to improve NFL draft stock

Published: Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 12:06 a.m.CDT
Caption
Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg is stopped by LSU linebacker D.J. Welter after a reception during the first quarter of the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla. Fiedorowicz is preparing for the Senior Bowl and the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

C.J. Fiedorowicz realizes he has no control over where he will be taken in this spring’s NFL draft.

But with a 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame that is built to succeed as a pro-level tight end, the former Johnsburg and Iowa standout is prepared to make himself as attractive to NFL teams as possible.

Fiedorowicz will spend this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., putting himself in front of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers. Since his Iowa playing career ended Jan. 1 in a 21-14 loss to LSU in the Outback Bowl, Fiedorowicz has shifted nearly his full attention to transitioning to the NFL.

Fiedorowicz has trained privately in San Diego since Jan. 6, taking the first steps toward next month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. What awaits him won’t come as a complete surprise. Fiedorowicz has watched the combine on TV for the past six or seven years, zeroing in primarily on tight ends, wide receivers and linemen and how they move.

When his turn comes, Fiedorowicz said in a phone interview Friday, he plans to be ready.

“You watch [the Combine] and you think, ‘Those are some big dudes,’ and it’s kind of weird to think that I will be at that exact Combine I’ve been watching,” Fiedorowicz said. “But I’ve just done a lot of work and put a lot of time into football to get to this point. I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

Fiedorowicz has hired California-based agent Jack Bechta and completed his Combine paperwork last week. He left for Mobile on Saturday, anxious to showcase his abilities for NFL teams in the market for a versatile tight end. As of Friday, Fiedorowicz said his agent and coaches at Iowa have heard from the Falcons, Packers and Chiefs.

Most draft analysts, including at CBSSports.com, project Fiedorowicz as a second- or third-round pick.

Much of his training in San Diego has focused on footwork and technique. Fiedorowicz has

concentrated his efforts on the kind of drills he knows can impact his draft stock in Indianapolis. He has focused primarily on the start of his 40-yard dash and on the 20-yard shuttle, a drill that measures not only a player’s speed but his ability to change direction.

His first opportunity will come at the Senior Bowl after finishing his senior year at Iowa with 30 catches and a team-best six touchdown grabs. During his career with the Hawkeyes, Fiedorowicz – who likens his game to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski – also proved to be a valuable blocker, rounding out a skill set that could make him a good fit on an NFL roster.

Greg Gabriel, who spent nine years working as the Bears’ director of college scouting, said the Senior Bowl is a critical first step.

“Each year, kids who jump out [in Mobile] end up helping themselves,” Gabriel said. “It’s the first live look coaches have at the players and that helps.

“[Fiedorowicz] just has to go out every day and do the best he can do.”

Fiedorowicz doesn’t feel any pressure to over-perform heading into the week. Because of the workload he has put in while looking forward to the NFL, Fiedorowicz said the rest of the process – like draft projections he refers to as “random stuff” – will take care of itself.

“I’m just ready to go out there and do my thing,” Fiedorowicz said. “I have the size and ability that NFL scouts are looking for. I’m not being cocky about it, but I feel like I can compete with guys from the NFL. I feel like I’m ready to go.”

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