The Houston Texans selected Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz with the first of their two selections in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. So far, the return on investment has been minimal to say the least.
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The 6’5″ 265 pound second-year player surely looks the part of an NFL tight end, but his rookie season saw him only catch four passes for 28 yards, with one touchdown. While there is typically a transitional period for all rookies coming into the NFL, four receptions by a player picked in round three simply is not what the team was hoping for.
Despite the lack of success in 2014, there is room for optimism as far as Fiedorowicz is considered, as so far in OTA’s he sees a large improvement in himself.
"“There was just so much going through my head where I wasn’t able to play fast,” Fiedorowicz said via Drew Dougherty of HoustonTexans.com. “I noticed already this OTA session, I’m going out there and when I see it I’m going fast. The quarterbacks are really seeing us right now, so we’re all excited.”"
C.J. added that he not only feels he has a stronger knowledge of the system and understands the speed of the NFL, but also that he was able to take care of a nagging knee injury over the offseason as well. The tight end said back in January he had an arthroscopic procedure done and so far everything feels “great.”
The head coach of the Texans, Bill O’Brien, has also noticed a difference in the young player. However, Bill stayed level headed and tempered his expectations some as he understands that the non-padded practices don’t reveal as much for players like Fiedorowicz who have to play in the trenches.
"“Looks like he’s improved some of his route running ability and some of his skill set there,” O’Brien said. “He’s improved his hands to a certain degree. The true test for linemen and tight ends is when the pads go on in training camp.”"
If Fiedorowicz is able to step up and become a true NFL caliber starting tight end it would go a long way in legitimizing the offense of the Texans. It would also force opposing safeties to pay attention to the big guy in the middle of the field, which would open things up for all the playmakers on the outside. For now, the positive news in the early going is about as good as the team can ask.