When the Denver Broncos signed Wyoming tight end Austin Fort as an undrafted free agent, not much was thought about it. However, he impressed early and often before sustaining a season-ending knee injury during the 2019 preseason.
#89 Austin Fort
Age 25. 6’4”, 244 lbs.
Coming out of college, he had just 17 career receptions for 221 yards and four touchdowns. Not exactly the kind of statistical numbers that would get a guy drafted or even signed as an undrafted free agent. It was his pro day numbers that opened some eyes. At his size, running a 4.56 40-yard dash and a 6.8 in the 3-cone drill was enough to pique Denver’s interest.
In training camp last season, Fort took advantage of every opportunity. He made highlight plays in practice early in training camp and late in training camp. It really looked like the Broncos had found a diamond with Fort.
He didn’t get too many opportunities in their first preseason game, but he had a big play in the Broncos second preseason game. Drew Lock looked for Fort deep down the middle for a 29 yard gain. The tackle resulted in a torn ACL for Fort and the end of a promising start to his career as an undrafted free agent.
He certainly has the size and athletic ability to return to form. He’ll get another chance in 2020.
“They told me right away that they liked what I’d been doing and they felt like I showed I could play in this league,” Fort said. “They wanted to take good care of me and give me another shot next year.”
Coming off a torn ACL is going to present a tough challenge for Fort. He reportedly starting running again in late January, so this far into his recovery should mean he is as close to 100% as you can be a year removed from such a devastating knee injury.
The biggest challenge now is fighting for a roster spot that is suddenly filled with guys looking to prove themselves.
With so many tight ends on the roster, Fort could be a guy the Broncos try to stash away on their practice squad in 2020. He has been in the meeting rooms and preparing mentally, but with a big chunk of his rookie season lost to injury he may need more time.
If I were to pick the final spots on the Broncos tight end position it will be Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, and Albert Okwuegbunam. We’ll throw in Andrew Beck as the TE/FB option there. I believe Austin Fort here makes it to the practice squad, with Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, and Jeff Heuerman moving on.