Noah has been nothing short of Fant-astic this season. Especially the second half of his rookie year.

It’s rare for a rookie tight end to catch on so quickly, even for the greats. But, that’s where the optimism lies surrounding Noah Fant; he’s already putting himself in the conversation as the best, big-play tight end in the league.

Rewind to draft day and the Broncos traded down, from pick No. 10 overall to No. 20, where they selected Fant out of Iowa, the second tight end taken. His teammate, T.J. Hockenson was taken first, but Fant has already eclipsed what Hockenson was able to do this year statistically. Hockenson was also placed on Injured Reserve recently, meaning Fant will certainly be the rookie tight end with the best stats this season.

But some (see: me) were shocked to see the Broncos go after a tight end in the first round. The Broncos had so many positions of need, like cornerback, middle linebacker, on the offensive line and wide receiver depth. Still, they took a tight end in the first round for only the second time in Denver’s franchise history.

And now, it’s already paying off.

Fant started the season slowly, which is to be expected from a rookie tight end. To wit, Jason Witten — a Dallas Cowboy great at the position — had a rookie season of a mere 35 receptions for 347 yards and one touchdown. Fant has eclipsed those numbers.

In his first seven games this season, Fant was more an afterthought, with 15 receptions for 159 yards and one score. He struggled to find his footing in the blocking department, struggled with some drops and lost a key fumble in the defeat to Green Bay.

But, in his last six games, Fant has been on fire. He’s totaled 20 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns. That includes his spectacular games against Cleveland (115 yards, 1 TD) and yesterday’s win over the Houston Texans (113 yards, 1 TD) in which we’ve seen Fant not just be a possession receiver, but a big-play threat.

On the first play from scrimmage yesterday, Drew Lock found Fant near the sideline, where he reeled in the catch and turned it upfield for a 48-yard gain. A few plays later, Lock connected with his fellow rookie Fant in the end zone, putting the ball on his tight end who had to catch it in traffic for the 7-0 lead.

Similarly, in the win over the Browns, Fant enjoyed that explosive, 75-yard catch-and-run to the house which displayed his speed and desire to be victorious. Fant caught the ball and ran through multiple Browns defenders on the way to the end zone.

Speaking of big plays, his 14.1 yards per reception are second-most in the NFL only to Jared Cook of the New Orleans Saints. Also, his nine plays of 20-plus yards are tied for sixth-most in the league and his two 40-plus yard plays are tied for second-most in the NFL.

What’s even more shocking is Fant has been able to excel while having three different quarterbacks — Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and now Lock — throw him the ball. He’s adjusted to their styles and has continued to dominate along the way.

With 492 total yards thus far, Fant is 10th in that category among tight ends; simply, all the signs are pointing to the Broncos landing a superstar at tight end when they drafted him at No. 20.

And, make no mistakes; the Broncos needed him to become a star at some point to justify picking him that high. The only thing is, no one really expected him to become a star in this, his rookie season.

Look for Fant to continue to evolve and grow into a superstar as time goes on. And if Lock really is the quarterback of the future, that combination will be a fun one to watch for many years to come in the Mile High City.