Broncos news: ESPN’s Matt Bowen likes Noah Fant’s breakout chances.
Although Broncos news is scarce right now, this is the time of year for bold predictions and optimistic looks into the future.
The Denver Broncos have assembled a tremendous group of young talent on the offensive side of the football, not the least of which is 2019 first-round pick Noah Fant.
Fant, whose rookie season was a bit up-and-down, wound up posting excellent numbers for a rookie tight end, numbers that rival the first season of just about any and every prominent tight end in the league right now.
He finished his rookie season with 40 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns, and he might have done even better if the Broncos hadn’t schemed so many plays with Fant getting the ball three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
In all seriousness, Fant was more impactful than many even in Broncos Country realized last season.
Rookies are (or should be) expected to struggle some, but Fant held his own despite some issues early on with drops or not winning at the catch point.
Although there is no doubt Fant can work at beating defensive backs and linebackers in contested catch situations, he was good for a big play just about every time he got the ball in 2019.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen, one of the film gurus of NFL Matchup thinks Fant has a chance to be a breakout player, in the 2020 season.
He’s certainly not alone.
Fant was one of the top players in the entire NFL last year at creating yards after the catch. As a matter of fact, he ranked second in the entire NFL behind AJ Brown (and tied with Deebo Samuel) at 8.5 yards after the catch per reception.
There were questions about Fant’s ability to create after the catch coming out of college, absolutely ridiculous gripes about his college tape that completely ignored Fant’s functional athleticism and usage in the Iowa offense.
Although Fant’s after-the-catch ability does not often involve him juking defenders out of their cleats, he showed in 2020 that his pure size and athletic ability were devastating open-field threats to defenses.
He also started to quiet down the crowd that said he couldn’t make contested catches. The ball he reeled in from Drew Lock against the Houston Texans is a play that should be a mural somewhere.
We’re with Bowen here.
Fant is a dynamic weapon who is going to keep getting better and better. He has only scratched the surface of the threat he can be in the passing game for the Denver Broncos, especially considering Fant was not used nearly as much in the red zone as he could or should have been.
According to Football Guys research, Fant got nine ‘looks’ in the red zone last season.
Jeff Heuerman got 13 such ‘looks’ in the 2018 season and from 2013-14, Julius Thomas got over 30 looks.
Fant was a monster in the red zone for the Iowa Hawkeyes, and he can yet become that for the Broncos.
It’s fun to look back at his rookie season and how many games he was either not involved or struggled and that he still put up impressive numbers makes Fant’s potential going forward all the more exciting.