Iowa senior C.J. Fiedorowicz‘s development into one of the top 10 tight end prospects ahead of the 2014 NFL draft might not have been possible without the help of assistant coach D.J. Hernandez.
D.J.’s younger brother is former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who’s currently in jail awaiting trial on several charges, including first-degree murder.
According to Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports, Fiedorowicz and Hernandez have a special relationship, which has helped the senior tight end develop his talent for a smooth transition to the pros.
Fiedorowicz said Hernandez addressed the team regarding his brother’s situation in an emotional moment for everyone involved.
“He got to talk to his brother a few times, and he said he wrote him letters all the time,” Fiedorowicz said. “I can’t even imagine what going through that was like for him. We definitely bonded over that experience.
“But otherwise, he was the same guy around [the rest of the team] every day. He’d come in, tell us what we were doing that day, tell us what we were doing wrong, tell us how we needed to get better, tell us to pick our [stuff] up. He was on top of stuff.
“He pushed us hard. He’s a good athlete, and he knows football,” Fiedorowicz added. “And, obviously, he’s seen his brother play, so he knows what it takes to be a great player.”
At 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds, Fiedorowicz has the ideal size for an NFL tight end, and he caught 30 passes for 299 yards and six touchdowns for the Hawkeyes in 2013. Fiedorowicz caught a season-high four passes for 46 yards in Iowa’s 21-14 loss to LSU in the Outback Bowl.
Fiedorowicz’s ability to play a role in the passing game makes him an intriguing prospect for NFL teams in the weeks leading up to May’s draft. As a complete tight end, he might even be a fit for the Patriots in the middle rounds.
“Fiedorowicz isn’t the elite talent that [Rob] Gronkowski was coming out of Arizona, but he has a complete skill set” NESN.com Patriots editor Doug Kyed wrote. “If Gronkowski goes down again, the Patriots will need a tight end who can get open and help out in the run game. Fiedorowicz spent some time in the slot but looked most comfortable running routes from a three-point stance.”
Fiedorowicz is projected to be drafted anywhere from the third to the fifth round, but luckily for him, many NFL teams need additional tight end depth.
Thumbnail photo via @IowaAthletics.