The University of Iowa has recently become known for producing high-level Tight End talent.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected a dynamic pass catcher by the name of George Kittle. Kittle went on to set the NFL record for receiving yards by a TE in a season in his sophomore campaign.
In the 2019 draft, two other Iowa tight ends were selected in the top-20 overall picks, which is unprecedented. T.J. Hockenson was selected by the Detroit Lions at #8 overall and a potential fantasy superstar closely followed suit: Noah Fant.
Editor’s Note: Make sure you read all of Kyle’s 2019 Rookie Profile articles for a complete look at the fantasy-relevant rookie draft picks.
NFL Scouting Combine Overview
|Height/Weight||40 Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||3 Cone Drill|
|6'4"/249 pounds||4.50 seconds||20 reps||39.5 inches||127 inches||6.81 seconds|
Fant possesses elite straight-line speed for the Tight End position. Since 2000, Fant ran the 9th fastest 40-Yard Dash time for his position according to Pro Football Reference.
"In the mix to be the first TE [taken in the draft]."@HawkeyeFootball TE Noah Fant runs a lightning fast 4.51u 40-yard dash!
— NFL (@NFL) March 2, 2019
To put Fant’s speed into context, he would’ve run fast enough to be considered the 9th best Running Back at the 2019 NFL Combine…despite weighing in 40+ pounds heavier than some of the competition.
However, not only does Fant have elite speed, he combines that with insane agility and quickness.
Fant also ran the 4th fastest 3-Cone Drill for the Tight End position since 2000. This demonstrates that Fant is not just a deep threat that will beat you with speed, but he’s also an option in the quick passing game with his ability to get in and out of breaks quickly.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 11, 2018
Throughout college, Fant showed the ability to be a safety valve for his quarterback in the short passing game. However, the moment defenses would neglect to cover him deep he would burn them for the long touchdown. He showed up to play every Saturday and his college stats bear this out.
|Year||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Yards Per Reception||Receiving TD's|
It’s important to keep in mind that Tight Ends in college don’t put up gaudy numbers from a production standpoint. Fant was able to still excel in big ways in that Iowa offense even though he had a future top-10 NFL Draft pick sharing the same position in T.J. Hockenson. For more on Hockenson, check out his Rookie Profile highlighted last month.
Fant was moved all over the formation at Iowa and used as a receiving weapon constantly. He has great hands and consistently makes catches away from his body, which shows great concentration and hand-eye coordination.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 6, 2019
Not only is Fant a great receiving threat though, but he does also have the power and willingness to excel as an in-line blocker. Due to his frame and excellent movement skills though, he won’t be asked to do this consistently at the NFL level…which is extremely beneficial for fantasy football.
Noah Fant was drafted with the #20 overall pick by the Denver Broncos.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 26, 2019
The Broncos have been searching for a Tight End since Julius Thomas had his back-to-back great years in 2013-2014. The search is now over though after the Broncos brought in Fant to take off pressure from QB Joe Flacco, who is renowned for loving his Tight Ends.
Fant joins an offense with weapons such as Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Phillip Lindsay out of the backfield. Fant will slide right into the starting role and should see all the targets he desires right out of the gate. Flacco had a Tight End with Fant’s athletic measurables back in Baltimore named Dennis Pitta. Flacco would target Pitta heavily when they were both on the field together.
There’s a lot to like about this Denver offense in 2019, but Fant has to be one of the most underrated players in fantasy football going into next season currently. Rich Scangarello is going to find ways to get Fant the ball and it wouldn’t surprise me if Fant finished as a top-10 Tight End when all is said and done. Tight Ends typically have a tough time producing right out of the gate their rookie years, but Fant may be the exception to that rule.
Dynasty Rookie Draft: With the TE landscape looking like it is currently, Fant should be considered a Round 1 lock in rookie drafts. He has a much better chance of being a fantasy contributor right away than former Iowa teammate T.J. Hockenson in Detroit, too.