Broncos find a matchup nightmare in Noah Fant

Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Noah Fant (Iowa) stands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected as the number twenty overall pick to the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the No. 10 pick came around for the Denver Broncos, many anticipated that they would either take quarterback Drew Lock out of Missouri or linebacker Devin Bush out of Michigan.

Instead, the Broncos surprised everyone by trading back with the Steelers and then selecting Iowa tight end Noah Fant with the 20th overall pick. Though, just because it was a surprising move, doesn’t make it a bad one.

Fant is listed as a tight end, but considering his athleticism, he’s closer to a big wide receiver. Fant showed off his freakish athleticism at the combine, where he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, the fastest of any tight end by nearly a tenth of a second and comparable to the times of top wide receivers Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown (4.49).

Fant wasn’t just top of the class at the 40-yard dash. He also ran the fastest 60-yard shuttle, three-cone shuttle and recorded the second-fastest 20-yard shuttle time as well. He also topped all tight ends in the vertical jump and broad jump, in case there were any remaining questions about his athletic abilities.

Checking all the boxes in terms of athleticism is great, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the production to match. Luckily for the Broncos, Fant does. In 2018, Fant ranked in the top 15 tight ends in terms of yardage, receptions and had the third-most touchdowns with seven.

Without a doubt, these numbers are impressive – but they become even more impressive when you consider his teammates. Noah Fant played on the same offense at Iowa as the eighth overall pick and fellow Hawkeyes tight end T.J. Hockenson. Despite Hockenson recording 49 receptions for 760 yards and six scores, Fant was still able to produce at an elite level.

He wasn’t just top of the class on the field or at the combine, though. Noah Fant was also top of the class at the University of Iowa, where he majored in Biology and has shown interest in someday becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

The most common comparison you will hear for Fant is Jimmy Graham, though, he’s a better athlete across the board, and provides a lot more in the run game as a blocker than Graham ever has. Comparing their combine numbers, Fant performed better in every single drill.

As for the run blocking, although he isn’t as skilled as Hockenson, Fant still fit the Hawkeye tradition of hard-nosed run blocking. He’s incredibly physical and as Bleacher Report’s Connor Rodgers said “He is looking to punch someone in the throat when he’s run blocking”.

Broncos fans should be thrilled with the selection of Noah Fant. He will be a mismatch nightmare that is far too big for cornerbacks to cover – especially when considering his vertical – and is far too quick for linebackers or safeties.

It appears that John Elway has finally corrected Denver’s consistent headaches at the tight end position, while adding extra draft capital for the future.

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