Fiedorowicz shakes off nerves, earns praise

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MOBILE, Ala. – C.J. Fiedorowicz admitted he was a little nervous before his first Senior Bowl practice.

“Had butterflies in my stomach,” he said.

The way the tight end from Johnsburg has performed in practice, though, you wouldn’t know it.

Fiedorowicz, who measured in at 6-foot-5 5/8 and 262 pounds, is arguably the best tight end at this senior showcase, and he is taking a calm approach to the crucial step in the evaluation process.

“Just relax and enjoy it,” he said of advice he received leading up to the week. “You’re never going to experience anything like this again.”

The former Iowa Hawkeye said that once he got going in practice, “I was cool. I didn’t even realize how many scouts were there.”

The scouts present certainly noticed his size.

“He’s physical and looks the part. He’s tall, well-built and uses his body to cut off and shield defenders,” said Russ Lande, a former NFL scout for the Browns and Rams, who is the college scouting director for the Montreal Alouettes.

“Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz has been impressive with his size, hands and short-area quickness,” tweeted Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl and former Browns GM.

An important goal of the draft process for players at every position is to show versatility and balance, something Fiedorowicz grasps.

“At Iowa, I did a lot of blocking. A lot of these scouts are wondering if I can actually run routes and stretch the field,” he said. “That’s actually what I’m trying to do, prove to scouts that I can do both. I think I have the ability, I’m going to show them this week. … If I can do both, that makes me that much more valuable to an NFL team.”

The blocking has been evident throughout the week, and with his big hands (10 5/8 inches), Fiedorowicz can make up for not having Jimmy Graham-speed with the ability to catch.

“He has rare ball skills,” said Lande, who also does work for the Big Ten Network. “He won’t be an elite receiving tight end, but the blocking is there and he’s athletic enough to go in motion. … He’s a smooth athlete and runs smooth routes.”

Coaches will dissect tape from practices this week, where Fiedorowicz has blocked well and made some nice catches – he had a pair in the red zone Wednesday. He explained the duality of where his focus has been in drills.

“Footwork’s huge, especially with these guys who are much more powerful and quick, you really got to get your feet underneath you, eyes up on your guy,” he said. “And then in the pass game, these guys cover a lot more ground, so you’ve got to really run good routes, use a lot of your body to shake them off.”

Fiedorowicz is viewed as a mid-round prospect, for now. But with his size, he can continue to gain traction throughout the process. In Saturday’s game, he will lean on what he’s heard from coaches throughout the week.

“Just finishing plays,” he said. “Being the guy who wants to dominate the guy across the ball from you. Try to win every time you’re on the field. Win your rep.”

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