Michael Conroy/Associated Press
As mentioned in the Su’a-Filo slide, the acquisition of an offensive guard so high in the draft was indicative of a run-first philosophy. The addition of a tight end best known for his blocking is another link in that chain of thought.
Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout laid out the strengths of Fiedorowicz in definitive terms:
A throwback tight end capable of dominating opponents as a blocker and holding his own as a receiver. He played a key functional role in a run-first offense with the feet to blend in at the end of the offensive line and the hands and reach to be his quarterback's best friend.
If Fiedorowicz delivers, the Texans will have three capable tight ends, each with a different combination of skills.
Garrett Graham is the best receiver of the group, but he lacks the size to be a great inline blocker. Ryan Griffin has good hands and the frame (6’6”, 254 lbs) to add enough weight to handle defensive ends one-on-one. Fiedorowicz already knows how to lay out defenders and be a reliable pass-catcher over the middle.
Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle believes this assemblage of talent was in the cards from the moment Bill O’Brien was hired to revitalize the franchise.
As soon as O’Brien exchanged Penn State for his first NFL head coaching job, predictions arose that the revamped Texans would attempt to double up on their tight-end production. The initial two weeks of organized team activities didn’t dispute the theory. Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin and rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz, among others, are expected to become safe harbors for the team’s to-be-determined Week 1 starting quarterback, with quarterbacks coach George Godsey and O’Brien blending multiple athletes into one critical offensive weapon.
Having more than just one capable tight end is a burgeoning trend, with six teams having two with 30 or more receptions. Fifteen have two tight ends with 20 or more receptions, while three (Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles) that have a trio which meets or exceeds that mark.
Brugler may have typified the rookie tight end as a “throwback,” but Griffin will tell you this offense is not just “three yards and a cloud of dust.”
'It's really complex,' said Griffin, who added 18 pounds and referred to his rookie season as the longest year of his life. 'You've got to know a lot and think on your feet. It's a lot of identifying stuff defensively, as well.'
This abundance at a single position could allow Graham to be the slot receiver this offense lacks at the moment. Jimmy Graham may have lost his arbitration case to be classified as a wide receiver instead of a tight end, but the change is coming.
The idea that Wes Welker or Julian Edelman is the ideal body type to navigate all the chaos within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage ignores the matchup problem the average tight end creates against almost every defensive back in the league.
Having a couple of ploughboys with soft hands that can free up Graham could be a decisive edge for an offense that lacks a host of experienced and productive wide receivers.
Expectations: on the field in short-yardage and jumbo packages, red-zone receiving specialist