BBD Staff Writer: Glenn Gifford
Buffalo Bills Draft continues to look ahead and examine 2014 NFL Draft prospects that could be a good fit for the Buffalo Bills roster. One such prospect is massive Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
There is little doubt that the tight end position has morphed over the past few years. Today’s tight ends, quite simply, look different than they did in the past. The size, speed and versatility needed at the position force today’s NFL tight ends to not only be accomplished receivers and route runners, but also excellent blockers. C.J. Fiedorowicz “fits the bill” in all of these categories.
Let’s examine Fiedorowicz and see why he would make a great Buffalo Bill.
Fiedorowicz has monster measurables. He is listed at 6’7″ and 265 pounds by Iowa’s official website. He has good hands and respectable speed for a big man. He has the ability to run a seam route from both a wide position and on the line.
His speed combined with his size will make him a difficult person to cover, especially opposing inside linebackers. What makes C.J. truly versatile is that he is especially talented as a punishing run blocking tight end in addition to his receiving skills. He is a road grader who can also catch and run.
The above video is a cut-up of Fiedorowicz’s game versus Michigan last season. Notice his versatility as both a receiver and a blocker.
He is a punishing blocker who is able to use his arm length to his advantage. He is very difficult to disengage from once he has a hold of his opponent.
While Fiedorowicz will never rack up ridiculous yards running after the catch, he does have enough speed to get open both up the seam as well as on quick 10-yard out or dig routes.
Fiedorowicz shows his hands and speed on the final play of the cut-up above (3:00 mark). Fiedorowicz is lined up in the slot and runs a neat little drag, which he catches and turns into a 37-yard play with his speed running across the field.
Fiedorowicz caught no passes as a freshman. As a sophomore in 2011, Fiedorowicz played in all 13 games but only started in 5. He had 16 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns for the Hawkeyes in that season.
While those numbers do not jump off the page, his 2012 numbers look a little better. Fiedorowicz had 45 receptions for 433 yards and a touchdown as a junior in 2012.
Bills: One-Dimensional at Tight End
Didn’t it seem that when Bills second-string tight end Lee Smith entered the game last year that the Bills usually ran the ball? In fact, they did. The Bills ran the ball on 197 of Smith’s 294 snaps last season—67 percent—according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
I don’t blame the Bills; Lee Smith is a good blocker who can assist the offensive line in getting a good push for the running game. The only downside was that most people in Ralph Wilson Stadium, including the opposing coaches, knew this as well.
What occurred after the Scott Chandler injury was that Buffalo became very one-dimensional at the tight end position. Lee Smith’s presence usually resulted in a running play; no tight end was usually a pass. Predictability in the NFL is a sure recipe for failure. Last year, the Bills were horribly predictable.
The Bills need to break away from this predictability. Fiedorowicz is a potential answer at tight end.
Many Bills fans are rightfully excited about seventh-round 2013 draft pick Chris Gragg from Arkansas. Gragg slipped in the draft due to a leg injury and is viewed by some as a real late-round gem. He has both the hands and the speed to be an interesting weapon in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s offense.
However, do not look for Chris Gragg to block. He, while potentially exciting, is a role player for a specific offensive set.
Fiedorowicz has a size mismatch which he can use to catch passes and punish people off of the line of scrimmage. He will not be painted as a “receiving” tight end or a “blocking” tight end. With Fiedorowicz you have the ability to give an opposing defense a similar look with many different options. He will help the Bills become less predictable.
Fiedorowicz is a great fit for the offense Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett will run. He represents the athleticism and versatility that Buffalo lacks at the tight end position. While some may think that Fiedorowicz is a clone of Scott Chandler (also an Iowa product), an in-depth look will show that Fiedorowicz has much more upside.
He is a punishing blocker and a behemoth of a man who will offer Buffalo a mismatch in several circumstances. While it is uncertain how Chris Gragg will pan out in Buffalo, I think the tight end position is one that will need to be addressed again in the 2014 NFL draft.
Chandler will be a free-agent next offseason, and Buffalo may be in the market for an early-round tight end in next May’s draft. Fiedorowicz may be just what the doctor ordered.