The Iowa Hawkeyes have coming through yet again, delivering us strong prospects at the tight end position. This year we’ve got a double jeopardy on our hands with Noah Fant and teammate T.J. Hockenson (check back for our main man, Pete Rogers’ piece on Hockenson).
Fant reported to the Combine at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds and put on a show to remember. The 21-year old posted No. 1 finishes at five of the Combine’s seven workouts. You read that correctly: he was the best performer in all but two of the exercises. How’d he do in the others? 3rd and 6th.
Fant’s athleticism has been apparent from an early age. He was a standout performer in track and field (sprints, high jump, triple jump) and basketball. His rebounding ability no doubt transferred to boxing out defenders in the endzone—a place he frequented during his Iowa tenure. Although used sparingly as a freshman in 2016, Fant broke loose in his second year with 494 yards and 11 touchdowns. The aforementioned Hockenson was a freshman in 2017 and had a solid campaign as well, posting 320 yards and 3 touchdowns. In both players’ final season (2018) the duo led the team in receiving yards and scoring: Fant with 519 yards and 7 touchdowns, Hockenson with 760 yards and 6 touchdowns and a 4-yard rushing score to boot.
Fant has the potential to be the top pure receiving tight end in this draft. He’s a moderately capable blocker, as all Iowa tight ends are, but the receiving game is where his bread is buttered. Some will knock him for not being able to contribute as a blocker in the same way that Hockenson will but being a unique mismatch option in the receiving game is an incredibly valuable thing—just ask guys like Jimmy Graham and Eric Ebron, the latter happens to be Fant’s most regular comp.
Tight ends can take time to develop in the NFL, however, a team picking in the back half of the 1st round (and therefore likely possessing a strong roster) would do well to add Fant as a luxury item that would take their offense to the next level. Simultaneously, it would ease the young player’s transition into the NFL, not having to be the focal point of an offense yet able to readily contribute via one-on-one matchups.
Fant’s college stats
Best Fantasy Fits
- Houston Texans (23rd overall): The Texans boast a strong offense, riding the arm and legs of quarterback Deshaun Watson. All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins leads a strong cast in the receiving corps, flanked by receivers Will Fuller and second-year man KeKe Coutee. Houston has struggled to find a tight end for their system and Fant could be exactly what they’re looking for. A porous offensive line leads to Watson frequently making plays outside the pocket. A stud, big-bodied receiving tight end would instantly boost Watson’s already stellar playmaking ability.
- Green Bay Packers (30th overall): As we’ve noted on the RB1: A Fantasy Football Podcast, tight ends struggled to stay relevant in Green Bay, during Mike McCarthy’s tenure. But, with the installation of Matt LaFleur as head coach, there’s reason for optimism. Detractors may highlight Jimmy Graham’s presence in Green Bay through the 2020 season, however, if anything this helps. Two tight end sets are becoming more and more prominent in the NFL—and more and more devastating. Graham is an excellent player for Fant to learn from as he fine tunes his skills as an offensive weapon.
- Los Angeles Rams (31st overall): Although Sean McVay will likely stick with his love of three receiver sets, there’s still room for a study tight end in there. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have both flashed at times but neither has the ceiling of Noah Fant. Adding a true receiving tight end to the mix could take this offense to another level.
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