The Denver Broncos traded back from their 10th overall selection in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft to the 20th overall selection with the Pittsburgh Steelers (who selected Michigan linebacker Devin Bush). With that 20th overall selection, the Broncos selected former Iowa tight end, Noah Fant.
A few weeks later, the Broncos signed their first-round pick by giving him a four-year, $12,590,721 deal that includes a $7,176,888 signing bonus, $9,883,805 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $3,147,680 during his deal. Naturally, since Fant is a first-round pick, he will get a fifth-year option in his contract that the Broncos will have to choose to exercise down the road.
Noah Fant Profile
Tight End | Junior | Iowa
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 249lbs | 40-time: 4.5 seconds
Arm length: 33 1/2” | Hands: 9 3/4”
Bench press: 20 reps | Vertical Jump: 39.5 inches | Broad Jump: 127.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.81 seconds | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.22 seconds | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.49 seconds
Noah Fant played a total of three seasons at Iowa and was a productive tight end during that time. During his three-year career at Iowa, Fant totaled 78 receptions for 1,083 yards, and 19 touchdowns. This past year, he totaled 39 receptions for 519 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
Here are Noah Fant’s 2018 accolades via Hawkeyesports.com.
- First-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and second team by league media
- Second-team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele
- Third-team All-America by The Associated Press
- Second-team All-Big Ten by Associated Press
- One of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award
- Named John Mackey Award Co-Player of the Week (with Iowa teammate T.J. Hockenson) for his play at Indiana
- John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List
- Preseason first-team All-America by NFLDraftScouts.com, Athlon Sports and Sporting News
- Preseason first-team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports
It is easy to see above why Fant went in the first round of April’s 2019 NFL Draft. He combines elite athleticism with game-changing ability in the receiving game. He should turn into an exciting player for the Broncos in the not so distant future.
Here is what Head Coach Vic Fangio had to say about Fant when he was asked about how excited he was about Fant when watching his film and how he fits into the offensive scheme.
“He was one of the first guys I watched and obviously he can run. That was the first thing that jumps out at you. He’s a competitive blocker also, which is part of his job description being a tight end. We don’t feel that he’s just a ‘move’ tight end or an off-the-ball tight end. He can play on the line of scrimmage also. That was important to us also.”
As we know, the Broncos tight end room prior to the selection of Fant didn’t excite many. Jeff Heuerman has flashed some, but has dealt with the injury bug multiple times throughout his career. Jake Butt is/was talented, but now is coming off his third ACL injury so it is tough to trust him moving forward. Finally, you have 2018 draftee Troy Fumagalli who missed his entire rookie year due to injury so his impact remains a bit of an unknown as well. So while the Broncos say they were “comfortable” with their tight end group prior to the selection of Fant, they likely feel much better about it now with him in the fold.
“We feel good about the other tight ends we have with Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli coming back and doing well. We just felt that adding Noah to that group—obviously we’ve have some health issues in that position—we just thought that what he brings to us in that situation, he can play three downs for us. Ultimately, you know he really can run. To have a guy that big and that size and really stretch the field, it really helps us.”
Let us hope that Fant can live up to his lofty expectations and become an instant impact weapon for the Broncos this upcoming season.
To put simply, Noah Fant is a freak. He’s a 6’4”, nearly 250 pound man who can run a 4.5 40-time. That is faster than some running back’s and wide receivers who have 50 or so less pounds on their body. So I can’t stress enough of how freaky of an athlete that Noah Fant is.
New Broncos TE Noah Fant saw a ridiculous 131.2 passer rating when targeted last season at Iowa pic.twitter.com/k9MML9lzoF— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 6, 2019
He also fits in perfectly in newly hired Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offensive scheme. Obviously, he learned under Kyle Shanahan who learned from his father and former Broncos great Gary Kubiak. One of the many things all three off these men have in common is their use of the tight end in the passing game. In some cases, the tight end is basically your top wide receiver and at the very least, someone who will be utilized in the passing game very often.
Scangarello saw tight end George Kittle who is a former teammate of Noah Fant at Iowa up close and personal this past season and was asked about how the two compare to each other.
“Not really, honestly. To me, they’re kind of different players. Both special in their own way. Like all players that have unique traits, you have to have the type of offense system that can accentuate those traits and see how they fit within them. I think that obviously Noah is athletic and he’s competitive. There are a lot of tight ends that Iowa that the same thing that happened to Kittle happens. Their production gets diminished, their reps get diminished, but there is a lot of upside there. Just excited to work with him. I think he has a lot of potential as a player. I think he has it in him to be a worker to really thrive here in Denver.”
Finally we have Joe Flacco’s track record with tight end’s throughout his NFL career with the Ravens. This is a trend that has continued for years and throughout multiple offensive schemes.
Over the last three years, Joe Flacco has targeted a tight end on 23% of his passes, the fifth-highest rate in the league during this span. Only Wentz (32%), Alex Smith (31%), Luck (26%), and Mariota (26%) are higher.— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) April 29, 2019
This obviously bodes well for rookie tight end Noah Fant who should see a fair share of targets coming his way from Flacco this upcoming season.
Fant was asked about Flacco’s history with tight end’s and it is something he told reporters is excited about.
“Oh, 100 percent. Flacco is a guy that, like you said, likes to target the tight end, and he likes to give the ball to him. Being in a situation like that, I couldn’t ask for better [spot for] a tight end. I would argue that I’m in the best situation for a tight end in this draft, being with the Denver Broncos. I am super, super—I can’t express how happy I am about that. I’m just looking forward to it.”
If all goes well, this should be a productive rookie year for Noah Fant and hopefully one that propels him into becoming a star player for the Broncos moving forward.
Well, tight end’s historically do not produce much their rookie years so this will be one of the many hurdles that Fant will have to past during his rookie year. He figures to be your likely starter and key member to the offense, so this could be a moot point.
Fant’s blocking is something that is commonly listed as a weakness for him. Now while he holds his own in most cases, he isn’t known for his blocking ability and may even struggle with at times during his rookie year. However, this is not why you drafted a tight end like Noah Fant. You drafted him to be a mismatch in the passing game. Anything he gives you in the blocking department should be considered a plus. It is something he has to work on and his technique will definitely get worked on as well, but this isn’t a big area of concern for me.
Finally, we have a quote from Head Coach Vic Fangio that hits the nail on the head.
A gem from #broncos head coach Vic Fangio yesterday.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) May 21, 2019
On 1st round pick TE Noah Fant:
“He’s got tools, but you know I can go into Home Depot and walk out with a bunch of nice tools and I’m not a carpenter.”
Noah Fant obviously has all the tools but as Fangio cryptically told reporters, he has to put it all together to reach his potential in the NFL. You see plenty of athletically gifted tight ends struggle to ever reach their potential in the NFL. Some names that come to mind are Eric Ebron(pre-Luck) and Jared Cook. Obviously, the Broncos hope so and probably believe he can otherwise they wouldn’t have selected him in the first round, but Fangio makes a great point here.
Noah Fant on what makes him a mismatch in the passing game.
“I think I do a good job with my speed and keeping the defender off me. I think that is a big part in stretching the seam and stretching vertically, and I feel like I can do that very well. I am able to use my athleticism in that also. So, I’m not trying to be too ‘braggy’, but obviously, I was able to put on some good numbers at the combine, so yeah.”
Noah Fant On his emotions when he received the phone call from Elway.
“I was very emotional. For me, it was like the stars were aligning because going into the Draft the Broncos was one of my favorites. That doesn’t happen very often because you can’t control where you go in the draft. For that to happen for me, to be at an organization like this, to be with coaches like this and in a situation like this, it’s something that is very special. I had a very emotional moment with my parents and my family there. They were all very super happy for me.”
Noah Fant’s roster status with the Broncos
Obviously, Fant is a lock to make the team but will he be your week one starter? That’s really the biggest question surrounding Fant heading into Training Camp.
I would imagine that Scangarello will have packages(red zone) for Fant regardless but will Heuerman get the nod as the starter in the early portions of the season? My guess is probably since teams often lean on the veteran at the position while easing the rookie in, but Fant clearly has the talent to surpass him. Also, potential injuries to Heuerman and others could play a role in this as well, but right now, I’m leaning on them easing him into action early on.
Outside of that, I am just anxious to see Fant on the field in a Broncos uniform this upcoming season.