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Fiedorowicz shines where it matters, in practice

Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (86) catches a 10-yard touchdown pass in front of Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond (27) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MOBILE, Ala. – C.J. Fiedorowicz did not have a catch in Saturday’s Senior Bowl. In fact, his only mention in the box score was two tackles on punt coverage.

There’s a reason that most scouts and NFL personnel leave here after Wednesday, and why Fiedorowicz still had one of the best weeks, even if it didn’t show up in the game.

Before the game, the Senior Bowl handed out awards for the top players at each position during the week of practice. Fiedorowicz, a tight end, was named the most outstanding receiver. The Johnsburg native wasn’t the only one with Midwest ties to have an impressive week.

Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward was the top defensive back, Notre Dame’s Zach Martin the top offensive lineman and Wisconsin’s Chris Borland was the most outstanding linebacker.

The game can be important as another piece of tape for teams to use in evaluation, and it should be noted that Christian Ponder was the MVP of the 2011 game and then drafted in the first round, but only a few scouts remain for Saturday’s game – they had seen plenty in practice reps.

Fiedorowicz got the start for the North team and ran some routes –Dan Durkin of AM-670 The Score was at the game and spotted Fiedorowicz wide-open on a play, but quarterback Tahj Boyd didn’t see him. Mostly, Fiedorowicz showed off what he did so well in practice, which was his run blocking. James White had 11 carries for 62 yards for the North team.

Ward, the Mobile native, had only one tackle, but got some love from the broadcast crew when his big hit helped force an incomplete pass in the second quarter. NFL Network commentator Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, said Ward was the best cover safety in Mobile.

The players with the best chance to use the game to up their draft stock are quarterbacks. Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo got off to a nice start, completing six passes in a row. His next pass was a throwaway when he was under pressure, a simple thing, but a smart decision that scouts will notice. He finished 6 for 11 for 32 yards.

Carl Sandburg High School alumnus Michael Schofield played right guard for the North team, and got some negative attention when he was beat into the backfield by Arizona State’s Will Sutton.

Northwestern’s Kain Colter, who made some big catches during the week in practice, withdrew from the game. The Chicago Tribune reported that Colter will undergo surgery on an ankle injury, giving even more credit to his play in practice, which he did on a relavitely new position at wideout, and on a bad ankle.

The draft prospects will return to their respective training facilities to prepare for February’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where they will run drills and interview with teams. Pro Days will take place on college campuses in March and April, and the draft is May 8-10.

Those who performed well in Mobile, like Fiedorowicz, Ward and Garoppolo, are off to a very good start to the draft process. In Mobile, the practice is what catches the eye, and they passed those tests.

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