The Denver Broncos had a formal interview with Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant at the 2019 Combine and brought him to Denver for an official visit.
The Denver Broncos re-signed Jeff Heuerman this offseason, bringing back the former third-round pick on a two-year deal to prove his 2018 season was no fluke before he went down with an injury. They also have former Michigan standout Jake Butt and Wisconsin star Troy Fumagalli coming off of injured reserve. Now, they have a significant interest in Noah Fant out of Iowa.
According to Mike Klis, the Broncos brought in Fant for a pre-draft visit, one of 30 they are allowed with players.
In addition to hosting Fant for a pre-draft visit to Denver, the Broncos met with him formally at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Their formal meetings at the Combine are 15 minute meetings, and they are allowed 60 of those.
Needless to say, Fant is understandably on the Broncos’ short list.
The Broncos’ tight end position is loaded with guys who can play in line and as big slots, but all of Heuerman, Butt, and Fumagalli are more in-line players.
Though Fant played in-line plenty at Iowa, he should be a dynamic weapon at the next level playing a ‘big slot’ role and would give the Broncos a receiving threat at the tight end position they have not even close to had since Julius Thomas was destroying teams with his speed and YAC abilities.
Fant is one of the best in this year’s draft at gaining yards after the catch, but he’s also a strong blocker, even if he’s not as strong as his teammate at Iowa TJ Hockenson.
While Hockenson’s game compares favorably to someone like Zach Ertz, Fant compares much more favorably to his former teammate at Iowa George Kittle, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kittle absolutely blew people away with his performance at the 2017 combine, running a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds. Kittle also had a 38-inch vertical jump at the Iowa pro day, a 132-inch broad jump, and 18 bench press reps.
Let’s compare Kittle’s athletic measurables to Fant’s.
Weight: 247 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds
Vertical: 38 inches (pro day)
Broad jump: 132 inches
Bench press: 18 reps
Height: 6-foot-4 1/8
Weight: 249 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.50 seconds
Vertical: 39.5 inches
Broad jump: 127 inches
Bench press: 20 reps
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at TJ Hockenson’s numbers.
Height: 6-foot-4 3/4
Weight: 251 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.70 seconds
Vertical: 37.5 inches
Broad jump: 123 inches
Bench press: 17 reps
The biggest difference between these guys is the 40-yard dash, and that 0.20 is a pretty big difference. Athletically, Hockenson is no slouch but what makes George Kittle so special for the 49ers is his speed.
The more comparable athlete, even by the slimmest of margins, is Fant.
Now, both Hockenson and Fant are very good players. But if Rich Scangarello is looking for the next Kittle, he might prefer Fant to Hockenson and the Broncos probably would have to spend a first-round pick on either unless Fant falls out of round one, which has been rumored.
Fant is clearly of interest to the Broncos, and Hockenson would be as well. With the current players on the roster, though, Fant may be the better fit.