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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Noah Fant, Iowa

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Noah Fant, Iowa
Davis Mattek March 6, 2019 9:53AM EDT

Noah Fant 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report

In what will not be the first or last time on this website, it appears that I was wrong about something. Noah Fant seems as if he is the best Iowa tight end and should be drafted higher than Iowa Hawkeyes teammate, T.J Hockenson. I wrote several weeks back that Hockenson was the TE1 for this class and even mocked him 4th overall in the first NFL Mock Draft I did this offseason. Neither of these things seems particularly true or likely after what Fant did at the NFL combine, paired with his production from Iowa.

Fant played little as a freshman at Iowa, catching only 9 passes but as an 18-year-old tight end at a Big 10 school, I won’t hold it against him. His sophomore season is what propelled him into the national and NFL Draft consciousness. He scored 11 touchdowns for an Iowa team that scored only 26 passing touchdowns all season. For anyone who has ever watched Iowa Hawkeyes football, you should be aware of how outstanding that is. Iowa, in general, has around a 60% run to pass ratio. In 2017, Iowa ran the ball 37 times per game compared to only 27.3 passes per game. It’s worth noting that in 2017, Fant was massively more production than teammate T.J Hockenson (though Hockenson was only a freshman).

In 2018, the tides did turn towards Hockenson ever so slightly. I am not trying to disparage TJ Hockenson in his scouting profile at all because I think that both he and Noah Fant are first-round NFL Draft picks at this point. In Fant’s final season at Iowa, he finished behind Hockenson in receiving yards with 519 to Hockenson’s 760 but lead Iowa in receiving touchdowns. His .63 receiving touchdowns per game leads this entire class of tight ends (not including Jace Sternberger who played only 15 games).

Projecting tight ends to the next level is not easy. Jace Amaro was one of the most productive college tight ends ever and he barely made an impact at the NFL level. George Kittle, also from Iowa, had only 48 receptions in four years in college. Travis Kelce had under 1,000 total yards in three seasons at Cincinnati and is the best tight end in the NFL now. It is always a plus to see that hyper-athletic tight ends like Fant had college production as a starting projection point.

The combine, however, is what really let Fant shine.

The number of 90th percentile measurements almost boggles the mind. Fant is 6’4″, weighing 249 pounds and was able to run a 4.5 40 Yard Dash. His agility score of 11.03 at that weight almost cannot be believed. For comparison’s sake, the Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson (one of the most agile running backs in the NFL) posted an agility score of 11.09 and that was considered stunning for his size. Noah Fant’s SPARQ score of 128.8 is 94th percentile for tight ends. On 3sigmaathlete.com, the numbers show that no tight end in this class is within 10% of Fant’s athleticism. Only Mike Gesicki from Penn State in the last five years has posted a SPARQ score as high as Fant and Gesicki’s college production was worse than Fant’s (and he came out a year older).

Noah Fant’s film is fairly interesting. He plays how his NFL combine numbers would project him to play but not really like a tight end. His most explosive plays come with him split out like a wide receiver or even on the move pre-snap. The most impressive thing to me was how quick he was changing directions after the catch point. On his highlight reels, you can see that once he gets the ball in his hands, he almost immediately gets to full speed heading up the field. He probably won’t ever be successful as an in-line tight end won’t have the impact that his teammate T.J Hockenson will as a blocker but that doesn’t really matter to me. An NFL team won’t draft a tight end in the first round to block but it will keep him from being as truly dominant as Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski. The obvious comp when watching Noah Fant at Iowa is Jimmy Graham. The ability to find the soft spot in zone coverage and the litheness with which he moves is apparent right away.

Noah Fant Final Verdict

NFL teams should be drooling to get Fant on their roster. In my first mock draft of this offseason, I put him to the Green Bay Packers. While that is a dream scenario for dynasty fantasy football and the NFL in general, it is now unlikely that he even falls that far. His otherworldly physical skills combined with his soft hands and run-after-catch ability are going to make him a star in the NFL. Most rookie tight ends start fairly slow but I would not be surprised to see Fant have a 50-catch rookie season if he goes to a forward thinking, intelligent NFL team. Having an elite pass catching tight end is one of the biggest chess pieces in modern football.

One spot that particularly intrigues me for Noah Fant is the Cincinnati Bengals at 11 in the 2019 NFL Draft. New head coach Zac Taylor is in the Sean McVay mold (he actually coached under McVay for two seasons) and will know the tactical advantage that comes from having an uncover-able pass-catching tight end. My dream spot for Fant is of course, the Green Bay Packers. If he makes it to 12 (which he very well could), pairing him up with Aaron Rodgers and letting him learn from Jimmy Graham is a perfect scenario. Regardless of landing spot, Noah Fant is a first round pick in any dynasty fantasy football rookie draft.

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