The Iowa Hawkeyes have done a good job over the years of developing pro prospects for the NFL. Usually, it’s their offensive linemen that are the biggest prospects they have (excuse the pun). After all, the Hawkeyes have had 13 offensive linemen drafted during coach Kirk Ferentz‘s tenure, including three first rounders. Quietly, however, Hawkeye tight ends have been a hot commodity as well, with seven drafted as well during that span and most finding success in the NFL. Now take this to the bank: C.J. Fiedorowicz will be number eight.
Fiedorowicz just might be the best tight end the Hawkeyes have had during Ferentz’s stay in Iowa City. Standing 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, Fiedorowicz easily fits the mold of the big and athletic tight end trend sweeping across the NFL, a la Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jared Cook, etc. Is he fast enough to occasionally line up in the slot or beat you deep? No, but he’s got more than enough speed to stretch the seam and force a defense to respect him. Plus, he’s nearly as good of a blocker as an offensive lineman, an absolute necessity at the next level.
Fiedorowicz looks to be a red-zone nightmare at the next level. With his wingspan and leaping ability, plus tremendous hands and a knack for acrobatic catches, he should instantly be able to step into a line up as a second tight end from day one.
Where does Fiedorowicz project? At this point he very well could be a solid second rounder. If he runs under a 4.7 40-yard dash, then there’s no way he falls past the second round.
Who will be in the market? A lot of teams, even if they already have a solid tight end on the roster. The New England Patriots showed the NFL how effective a double tight end set can be against a defense and proved how creative you can be utilizing both. In fact, with the whole Aaron Hernandez homicide investigation(s), the Pats should be in the market for a second tight end. How about a pairing of Gronkowski and Fiedorowicz? Both are 6-foot 6 and are truly nightmare match ups, both in the red-zone and out.
Fiedorowicz isn’t the only Hawkeye prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, but he’s by far the most intriguing. Three outstanding linebackers (Christian Kirksey, James Morrison and Anthony Hitchens) will also be pushing to be selected, though all three are looking like fringe 7th rounders at this very early point. And yes, the Hawkeyes do have a lineman prospect (tackle Brett Van Sloten), but he’s somewhat of a longshot to be the 14th lineman selected for Iowa.
All in all, this is not the best crop of draft prospects the Hawkeyes have had under Ferentz, but they do have a heck of a tight end who could make an immediate impact in the NFL.