Name: Noah Fant
Position: Tight End
Pro Team: Denver Broncos
College Team: Iowa Hawkeyes
Draft Status: Round one, 20th overall
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 249 pounds
- Arms: 33 1/2”
- Hands: 9 3/4”
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.50
- Bench press: 20 reps
- Vertical Jump: 39.5”
- Broad Jump: 127.0”
- 3-Cone Drill: 6.81 Seconds
- 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.22 Seconds
- 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A
- Initial burst creates separation off the snap quickly
- Long strider and fast, faster than some defensive backs
- A nightmare to cover in the red zone, nose for the end zone
- Can get up and win contested high passes
- Gets open at any level and solid route running
- Hands are phenomenal, catches low passes and doesn’t fumble
- Uses hands well in blocking, stays balanced and engages
- Affected by contact in routes, needs strength while running
- Not a strong blocker at the point of attack – can be pushed around
- Doesn’t adjust well to the ball when in the air at times
- Needs to learn to read zones and adjusting to what defense gives him
- Can drop the ball if a big hit is coming, loses focus
Fant was the man in Iowa in 2017 before the emergence of TJ Hockenson hampered his production in 2018. He caught 30 passes for 494 yards and 11 scores in 2017, leading the Hawkeye aerial attack on an offense which focused on the run and controlling the clock. He started gathering buzz as being the next great Iowa tight end and was expected to take a huge step forward. 2018 brought in Hockenson and Fant’s production stalled a little – another 39 catches for 519 yards and seven scoring grabs – not bad by any means but not the progress most were expecting.
The Scouting Combine brought one of the most impressive showings ever by a tight end. Fant displayed his impressive athletic acumen and destroyed all the drills. His times weren’t the most impressive aspect, I was on hand and the way he ran the drills was eye-opening. He caught everything thrown his way and ran with a speed which made all the other tight ends look like they were lineman running the drills.
Drafted in the first round by the Broncos, Fant will see the field early and often. He is already listed as the starter in early depth charts. The Broncos have searched for an answer for years; the depth chart also consists of Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli, and Jake Butt.
There isn’t a credible threat to block Fant from getting targets early and often, as long as he can grasp the NFL game and playbook. Heuerman will likely see a good share of reps, specifically in run formations, but he hasn’t been a pass catcher consistently. Butt is a talented tight end but hasn’t been able to see the field due to injuries. Fant will get in the game early and specifically in pass-catching formations.
As stated above, Fant will see the field. I expect some of the typical growing pains associated with learning the nuances of a tight end in the NFL but I don’t see the Broncos requiring Fant to learn much regarding run-blocking. I could see them employing him more as a move tight end, similar to how the New York Giants used Evan Engram his first two seasons. A stat line in the 45-50 catch range with 600 yards and seven touchdowns is what I project for 2019.
Fant will be the next of the tight ends to make a big splash in the NFL from Iowa and he is going to be a TE1 for many seasons. A lot of people want to project George Kittle numbers to him and Hockenson, I believe those are a bit lofty – not every offense will employ and use the tight end the way San Fransisco has. That said, I see Fant consistently being a tight end who tallies in the 75/900/10 range for at least the next six to eight years. He is an extremely talented pass-catching tight end with upside to post those numbers and more. If he can develop his blocking capabilities, he will never be taken off the field and could even put up better touchdown numbers.
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
I comped him recently on a podcast as a more talented Eric Ebron. They have similar athletic profiles. Fant is a much better pure pass-catcher and will not be plagued by drops as Ebron was early in his career with Detroit. Both were drafted high with expectations to be huge difference makers in their respective offenses.
PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE
According to our Rookie ADP, Fant is currently 11.0 on average in the first ten rookie mocks since the NFL Draft. In a TE-premium format, I believe Fant should be taken in the 6-7 range. The tail-end of the first round is the sweet spot to grab the talented Bronco in standard formats.