When the Denver Broncos traded back to the 20th overall selection with the Pittsburgh Steelers, they clearly had several players in mind that they felt could fall and were happy to pick up the extra draft capital. They picked up an extra second rounder in 2019 (52nd overall) and a third rounder in 2020.
That trade alone likely boosted their overall grades here, since they can now be quite active during what head coach Vic Fangio called ‘the meat of the draft’ on Day 2. However, by selecting one of the most dynamic offensive talents in the draft with tight end Noah Fant, the Broncos also showed their commitment to Joe Flacco in the near term.
When Fant was selected, 50% of Broncos fans voted the draft pick an A or A+, while another 30% voted B. That looks like a big win from the fans perspective.
How would you grade the Broncos selection of tight end, Noah Fant
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Here is how other news outlets graded the Broncos draft moves and pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Broncos Draft Grades
If you would have told me before the draft that Elway was going to trade back and pick up a 2019 2nd and 2020 3rd and get a guy that I debated as TE1? I would have told you you were lying. In the end I had Hock higher on my final Day 1 Big Board in part because I thought he was a better inline tight end and run blocker. I wonder what would have happened if Detroit had gone after Oliver or a offensive line help.
In the end, it won’t matter. Woody Paige was right and the Broncos wound up with a true mismatch weapon. Fant is going to be too fast for linebackers to deal with down the seam and too big for most safeties to body up on. He’ll need to improve as a blocker, route runner, and there are some concentration drops on his tape, but I love this pick. Fits an immediate need with an elite talent and Denver received extra capital in a very deep talent tier (20-60 is loaded) and got 2020 capital to help chase a franchise QB.
It was smart of the Broncos to trade back and get Fant here instead of rushing him with the 10th pick. For several years Denver has been trying to land a tight end. It just didn’t work with middle-round picks like Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman for various reasons. Fant is a different type of player. For new Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, he can be a weapon and a safety valve. Fant might be one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year.
Fant is an athletic freak who will stretch defenses. He’s not the complete package as a run blocker and receiver that former teammate T.J. Hockenson is, but he will be a weapon for veteran Joe Flacco. The Broncos made this pick after trading down in a deal with the Steelers, picking up an extra second-round pick this year (No. 52) and 2020 third-round selection in the deal. They did pass on a chance to pick Devin Bush, who could have been a great addition to the defense, but you can’t blame the Broncos for taking the draft capital and running.
I like Noah Fant. I think it’s a good pick for the Broncos, but I probably would have taken Drew Lock here. Joe Flacco is not the long-term answer at QB. Fant is a move tight end and they are becoming more valuable in the NFL, but I would have taken Lock.
Fant is a revered receiving talent, but he was not asked to block much at Iowa in a system that puts a premium on tight end blocking. What do we make of that? Denver’s incumbent tight end, Jeff Heuerman, is a serviceable starter at best, and you don’t take a player in the first-round with ideas of making him a backup. Fant is here to contribute, but it’s hard to imagine he CAN without becoming a respectable blocker. Heuerman doesn’t inspire a team to employ more two-tight end sets, and with Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton and presumably last year’s fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton, the Broncos can feel good about their three-receiver package. As a receiver, Fant is gifted, but some feel his route running needs to be polished. Given that and the questions about his blocking, we could be looking at a No. 2 tight end for 2019, but one with upside.
Second tight end off the board, second tight end off the board from Iowa (the first time that’s ever happened). He’s a better pass-catcher than blocker, but good luck putting a linebacker on him man to man.