INDIANAPOLIS -- This year's tight end crop isn't considered to be very strong or deep.
But Johnsburg's C.J. Fiedorowicz solidified a spot in the top five with his performance at the Scouting Combine last week, posting numbers comparable to or better than the top four.
North Carolina's Eric Ebron and Texas Tech's Jace Amaro are considered first-round talents, and Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Notre Dame's Troy Niklas could both end up taken in the second round.
Fiedorowicz, who was named the most outstanding receiver at the Senior Bowl, has been projected in the fourth to fifth round. His Senior Bowl and Combine performances established the Iowa Hawkeye as a complete tight end.
"I think I proved to some of the coaches that I can be a guy who can block in-line but also stretch the field," Fiedorowicz said of his Senior Bowl work. "I think that might separate me from some of the other tight ends. A lot of tight ends in the NFL are either blocking tight ends or receiving tight ends."
Fiedorowicz is both. He may not possess the wow factor, but the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder is well-rounded.
Nineteen tight ends were invited to the Combine, and Fiedorowicz posted the fastest 20-yard shuttle and three-cone times of the nine who ran the drills which test agility, quickness, explosiveness and change of direction. Fiedorowicz ran 4.26 in the shuttle, in which a player runs 5 yards forward, 10 yards back the other way past the starting point and then back 5 yards to the original starting point.
He was clocked at 7.10 the three-cone drill, also called the "L" drill because the cones are set up in an L shape. That begins the same way as the 20-yard shuttle, with the player starting at Cone 1 and running 5 yards straight ahead to the second cone. He then returns to the start, reverses field and runs back to the second cone, this time rounding it and taking an inside route to the third cone 5 yards to the side at a 90-degree angle from the second cone. He rounds the third cone, rounds the second cone to the outside, and returns to the start.
Fiedorowicz bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times, fifth best of the 14 tight ends who lifted, and he ran a 4.76 40-yard dash -- which was fifth out of 12.
Size doesn't matter:
If the Bears decide to address defensive line with their first pick (14th overall), Pitt's Aaron Donald is another player who emerged as a mid-first-rounder with an excellent workout at the Combine.
Undersized at 6-feet-1, 285 pounds, Donald smoked a 4.68 40-yard dash, by far the fastest of any defensive tackle -- where 32 of the top 40 prospects were timed in more than 5.00. He also did 35 reps of 225 on the bench, just 1 rep short of the best mark among all defensive players.
As far as the size thing, Donald said it's mind over matter. He doesn't mind, so it doesn't matter.
"It never got to me," Donald said. "It is what it is. Thinking about it ain't going to get me no taller. All I can do is go play the game of football the way I play it: hard-nosed, out there trying to make plays."
Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are the top two safeties in this draft. Both would clearly help the Bears, although most analysts have them rated a little lower than the 14th overall spot.
Clinton-Dix is more of a free-safety type because of his cover ability, while Pryor is a better fit at strong safety because of his physical play against the run. They ran identical 4.58 40-yard dashes Tuesday, but Pryor's 18 reps of 225 on the bench were 7 more than Clinton-Dix.
Bears strong safety Major Wright will become a free agent March 11, and free safety Chris Conte must play better to keep his job, according to Bears general manager Phil Emery.
"Chris knows he has to come in and compete to start," Emery said. "We need to improve back there."