The Atlanta Falcons are probably the NFL team that will have the biggest need at tight end before the 2014 season. The greatest tight end of all time, Tony Gonzalez, is fully slated to retire (for good this time) as a Falcon, leaving Atlanta with a massive hole to fill. Obviously, there will be plenty of good tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft, but I think Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz would be the best fit.
There are two main reasons why. First, I really like his skill set, and what he brings to the table physically. Second, I think someone will get a good value for him on draft day.
In terms of physical skills, he’s exactly what you’re looking for. He’s 6-foot 6, 265 pounds, has good enough speed to stretch the seam, has outstanding hands, is a red-zone monster and is a fantastic blocker. The bottom line is that he fits the trendy mold of big and athletic playmakers for tight ends, which has become all the rage in the modern NFL.
The reason I think someone will get a good value in him is that he’ll be drafted lower than he should be. This is because he doesn’t have the outrageous measurable’s or production that Eric Ebron (North Carolina), Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) or Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) has, and tight ends almost always are undervalued in the draft. This is because, same as running backs, it’s proven you can find a solid TE almost anywhere in the draft.
All of this plays out perfectly for Atlanta. The Falcons are more than likely going to be picking early in the NFL Draft (still seems weird writing that), potentially even in the top-10. That’s way too high to ever select a tight end, unless they happen to run a 4.38 like Vernon Davis. And it’s not like Atlanta doesn’t have any other needs. A top young pass rusher figures to be the biggest priority, then tight end, followed by defensive tackle, middle and outside linebacker, cornerback and depth along the offensive line.
Considering such, I think Atlanta targets a TE in the second round, where Fiedorowicz will be patiently waiting. He’ll immediately aid the inconsistent ground game with his blocking, offer a safety valve for QB Matt Ryan and become a fantastic red-zone option. He’s a blue-collar guy who’s personality and work ethic will mesh perfectly with coach Mike Smith (providing he’s still the coach, which he very well should be, despite this season’s results).
All in all, if I’m Atlanta teneral manager Thomas Dimitroff and C.J. Fiedorowicz is still on the board when we pick in the second round, done deal.