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Noah Fant has a great combination of straight-line speed and quickness

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His Speed Score and Quix Score combine to make Fant one of the best athletes as tight end to come out of college this century.

NFL Draft Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NFL combine CAN BE useful to differentiate between players who are elite athletes (even when compared to other elite athletes) and players who are good athletes with elite football skills.

This article will not try to speak to Noah Fant’s football skills, but it will show you that he is one of the best athletes at tight end to come out of college this century.

About 20 years ago one of my fellow draft/combine nerds came up with Speed Score, which basically grades a player on how fast they are for their mass. The underlying assumption is that smaller players SHOULD be fast. Big players who are also fast (using 40 yard dash as measure of fast) get huge speed scores.

A value above 120 is elite. A value of 100 is “average” and a value over 130 is other-wordly. Calvin Johnson was 233 pounds at the NFL combine and ran a 4.33 40. That worked out to a speed score of 132.6.

Here are the top 20 speed scores from the 2019 combine.

Rank Player Position School Height Weight 40 time Speed Score Drafted
1 Montez Sweat EDGE Mississippi St. 6/6 260 4.41 137.5 Washington Redacted / 1st / 26th pick / 2019
2 D.K. Metcalf WR Mississippi 6/3 228 4.33 129.7 Seattle Seahawks / 2nd/ 6th pick / 2019
3 Rashan Gary DL Michigan 6/4 277 4.58 125.9 Green Bay Packers / 1st / 12th pick / 2019
4 Devin White LB LSU 6/1 237 4.42 124.2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers / 1st / 5th pick / 2019
5 Devin Bush LB Michigan 5/11 234 4.43 121.5 Pittsburgh Steelers / 1st / 10th pick / 2019
6 Noah Fant TE Iowa 6/4 249 4.50 121.4 Denver Broncos / 1st / 20th pick / 2019
7 Zedrick Woods S Mississippi 5/11 205 4.29 121.0
8 Justin Hollins EDGE Oregon 6/5 248 4.50 121.0 Denver Broncos / 5th / 156th pick / 2019
9 Jamel Dean CB Auburn 6/1 206 4.30 120.5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers / 3rd / 94th pick / 2019
10 Parris Campbell WR Ohio St. 6/1 205 4.31 118.8 Indianapolis Colts / 2nd / 59th pick / 2019
11 Brian Burns EDGE Florida St. 6/5 249 4.53 118.3 Carolina Panthers / 1st / 16th pick / 2019
12 John Cominsky DL Charleston 6/5 286 4.69 118.2 Atlanta Falcons / 4th / 135th pick / 2019
13 Gary Johnson LB Texas 6/1 226 4.43 117.4
14 Ty Summers LB TCU 6/1 241 4.51 116.5 Green Bay Packers / 7th / 226th pick / 2019
15 Terry McLaurin WR Ohio St. 6/1 208 4.35 116.2 Washington Redacted / 3rd / 76th pick / 2019
16 Jazz Ferguson WR Northwestern St. (LA) 6/5 227 4.45 115.8
17 David Long LB West Virginia 5/11 227 4.45 115.8 LA Rams / 3rd / 79th pick /2019
18 Blake Cashman LB Minnesota 6/1 237 4.50 115.6 New York Jets / 5th / 157th pick / 2019
19 Chase Winovich EDGE Michigan 6/3 256 4.59 115.4 New England Patriots / 3rd / 77th pick / 2019
20 Miles Boykin WR Notre Dame 6/4 220 4.42 115.3 Baltimore Ravens / 3rd / 93rd pick / 2019

You’ll notice that three of the players in the top 20 went undrafted. You should also notice that both Fant and Justin Hollins show up on this list.

The Broncos got two guys with elite straight-line speed, but I’ve never really liked using 40 yard dash (in underwear) times to evaluate players since 40 times rarely correlate to NFL success.

I think that there is more value in looking at the quickness (and change of direction ability) of players as measured by the three-cone drill and the 20-yard short shuttle.

A few years ago I came up with a way to get a quickness score similar to the Speed Score. Here are the top 20 players from the 2019 combine in terms of Quix Score. I should mention that players who did not participate in one of the two drills used for Quix Score, obviously were not given a quickness score, and I did not want to use Pro Day values.

Rank Player Position School Height Weight CoD Quix Score Drafted
1 Anthony Nelson DL Iowa 6/7 271 11.18 121.4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers / 4th / 107th pick / 2019
2 Maxx Crosby DL Eastern Michigan 6/5 255 11.02 121.0 Oakland Raiders / 4th / 106th pick / 2019
3 Chase Winovich EDGE Michigan 6/3 256 11.05 120.2 New England Patriots / 3rd / 77th pick / 2019
4 Easton Stick QB North Dakota St. 6/1 224 10.70 119.6 LA Chargers / 5th / 166th pick / 2019
5 John Cominsky DL Charleston 6/5 286 11.41 118.1 Atlanta Falcons / 4th / 135th pick / 2019
6 Noah Fant TE Iowa 6/4 249 11.03 117.8 Denver Broncos / 1st / 20th pick / 2019
7 Nick Bosa DL Ohio St. 6/4 266 11.24 116.7 San Francisco 49ers / 1st / 2nd pick / 2019
8 David Long CB Michigan 5/11 196 10.42 116.4 LA Rams / 3rd / 79th pick /2019
9 Cody Barton LB Utah 6/2 237 10.93 116.2 Seattle Seahawks / 3rd / 88th pick / 2019
10 Dakota Allen LB Texas Tech 6/1 232 10.92 114.2 Los Angeles Rams / 7th / 251st pick / 2019
11 Andrew Van ginkel LB Wisconsin 6/3 241 11.03 114.0 Miami Dolphins / 5th / 151st pick / 2019
12 Ben Burr-Kirven LB Washington 6/1 230 10.94 112.4 Seattle Seahawks / 5th / 142nd pick / 2019
13 Andre Dillard OT Washington St. 6/5 315 11.84 112.2 Philadelphia Eagles / 1st / 22nd pick / 2019
14 Montez Sweat EDGE Mississippi St. 6/6 260 11.29 112.0 Washington Redacted / 1st / 26th pick / 2019
15 T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa 6/5 251 11.20 111.7 Detroit Lions / 1st / 8th pick / 2019
16 Miles Boykin WR Notre Dame 6/4 220 10.84 111.5 Baltimore Ravens / 3rd / 93rd pick / 2019
17 Blake Cashman LB Minnesota 6/1 237 11.07 110.5 New York Jets / 5th / 157th pick / 2019
18 Foster Moreau TE LSU 6/4 253 11.27 109.8 Oakland Raiders / 4th / 137th pick / 2019
19 Josh Allen EDGE Kentucky 6/5 262 11.38 109.4 Jacksonville Jaguars / 1st / 7th pick / 2019
20 Rashan Gary DL Michigan 6/4 277 11.55 109.0 Green Bay Packers / 1st / 12th pick / 2019

A score of 120 is elite. You should note that every player in the top 20 was drafted. You should also note that Noah Fant is on this list as well. So he is not only fast, but also quick. How does his combination of speed and quickness compare to other tight ends this century? Let’s take a look.

Fant has the sixth-best Speed Score for a tight end at the combine this century.

Rk Year Player Pos School Height Wt 40YD Speed Score
1 2012 James Hanna TE Oklahoma 6/4 252 4.43 130.9
2 2011 Rob Housler TE Florida Atlantic 6/5 248 4.46 125.4
3 2010 Jimmy Graham TE Miami (FL) 6/6 260 4.53 123.5
4 2014 A.C. Leonard TE Tennessee State 6/2 252 4.50 122.9
5 2017 Evan Engram TE Mississippi 6/3 234 4.42 122.6
6 2019 Noah Fant TE Iowa 6/4 249 4.50 121.4
7 2012 Ladarius Green TE Louisiana-Lafayette 6/6 238 4.45 121.4
8 2017 O.J. Howard TE Alabama 6/6 251 4.51 121.3
9 2009 Jared Cook TE South Carolina 6/5 246 4.49 121.1
10 2012 Michael Egnew TE Missouri 6/5 252 4.52 120.7
11 2011 Jordan Cameron TE Southern California 6/5 254 4.53 120.6
12 2010 Dorin Dickerson TE Pittsburgh 6/1 226 4.40 120.6
13 2012 Coby Fleener TE Stanford 6/6 247 4.51 119.4
14 2013 Chris Gragg TE Arkansas 6/3 244 4.50 119.0
15 2017 George Kittle TE Iowa 6/4 247 4.52 118.4
16 2017 Bucky Hodges TE Virginia Tech 6/6 257 4.57 117.8
17 2011 Virgil Green TE Nevada 6/3 249 4.54 117.2
18 2018 Mike Gesicki TE Penn St. 6/5 247 4.54 116.3
19 2017 Darrell Daniels TE Washington 6/3 247 4.55 115.3
20 2009 Shawn Nelson TE Southern Miss 6/5 240 4.52 115.0

Our old friend, Virgil Green, is on this list as well.

Fant has the eighth best Quix Score for a tight end this century.

Rk Year Player Pos School Height Wt 3Cone Shuttle CoD Quix Score
1 2011 Jordan Cameron TE Southern California 6/5 254 6.82 4.03 10.85 128.3
2 2012 James Hanna TE Oklahoma 6/4 252 6.76 4.11 10.87 126.4
3 2018 Mike Gesicki TE Penn St. 6/5 247 6.76 4.10 10.86 124.3
4 2010 Dennis Pitta TE BYU 6/4 245 6.72 4.17 10.89 121.9
5 2011 Schuylar Oordt TE Northern Iowa 6/6 261 6.83 4.25 11.08 121.2
6 2017 O.J. Howard TE Alabama 6/6 251 6.85 4.16 11.01 119.6
7 2008 Darrell Strong TE Pittsburgh 6/4 268 6.86 4.36 11.22 118.4
8 2019 Noah Fant TE Iowa 6/4 249 6.81 4.22 11.03 117.8
9 2009 John Phillips TE Virginia 6/5 251 6.84 4.27 11.11 115.3
10 2016 Ben Braunecker TE Harvard 6/3 250 6.90 4.20 11.10 115.3
11 2008 Dustin Keller TE Purdue 6/2 242 6.88 4.14 11.02 114.9
12 2009 Dan Gronkowski TE Maryland 6/5 255 6.92 4.26 11.18 114.3
13 2011 Rob Housler TE Florida Atlantic 6/5 248 6.90 4.21 11.11 113.9
14 2015 Blake Bell TE Oklahoma 6/6 252 6.85 4.32 11.17 113.3
15 2015 Nick Boyle TE Delaware 6/4 268 7.13 4.23 11.36 112.6
16 2011 Lance Kendricks TE Wisconsin 6/3 243 6.94 4.15 11.09 112.5
17 2017 Adam Shaheen TE Ashland 6/6 278 7.09 4.38 11.47 112.4
18 2016 Nick Vannett TE Ohio State 6/6 257 7.05 4.20 11.25 112.3
19 2019 T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa 6/5 251 7.02 4.18 11.20 111.7
20 2011 Zack Pianalto TE Michigan State 6/3 256 6.85 4.41 11.26 111.5

If you average the Quix and the Speed Score, you get a new value I am calling QuiSp. Noah Fant has the eighth best QuiSp for a tight end this century.

Rank Tight End QuiSp
1 James Hanna 128.6
2 Jordan Cameron 124.5
3 A.C. Leonard 122.9
4 Jared Cook 121.1
5 O.J. Howard 120.5
6 Mike Gesicki 120.3
7 Rob Housler 119.6
8 Noah Fant 119.6
9 Coby Fleener 119.4
10 George Kittle 118.4

Fant’s combination of size, speed and quickness is elite for a tight end. The comparisons to Jared Cook and George Kittle make sense given that both players are also in the top 10 in QuiSp for TEs at the combine this century.

If you look at the 10 most productive NFL TEs to be drafted this century, you’ll find that most of them did not show on that list of the top 20 Speed Score and Quix Scores for TEs this century.

Rank Tight End Career AV
1 Rob Gronkowski 82
2 Jason Witten 80
3 Greg Olsen 70
4 Jimmy Graham 66
5 Vernon Davis 64
6 Travis Kelce 53
7 Dallas Clark 51
8 Jeremy Shockey 48
9 Jared Cook 47
10 Heath Miller 46

So I guess the comparison to Jared Cook is good since he is one of the TEs who performed both well at the combine and well once he got into the NFL.