Denver Broncos TE Noah Fant is one of the top rising stars in the NFL.
Let’s talk about Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant, and why he is poised to take the league by storm next year.
A first-round pick in 2019 out of Iowa, Fant became the second tight end from Iowa taken in the first round of the 2019 draft, as TJ Hockenson was taken 8th overall by the Detroit Lions. Both tight ends were highly sought after in the draft, but many of Noah Fant’s qualities put him in good company.
Noah Fant has blazing speed for a tight end, running a 4.50 at the NFL combine. For perspective, Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster ran a 4.54, and Jerry Jeudy ran a 4.45. Not only that, Fant is hyper-athletic, and can high-point balls in the air.
Because of this, he is a mismatch for most linebackers and defensive backs. His speed coupled with his large frame creates ideal matchups in the passing game.
We have seen Fant’s rare athleticism benefit him greatly in key situations, and after the 2020 season, it is easy to see why Fant is poised to be a starter in this league for years to come.
In 2019, his rookie year, Fant caught 40 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns. To compare that with other notable tight ends from this generation and last:
- Rob Gronkowski caught 42 passes for 546 yards in his rookie year;
- Jimmy Graham caught 31 passes for 357 yards;
- Greg Olsen caught 39 passes for 391 yards, and;
- George Kittle caught 43 passes for 515 yards in his rookie year.
Playing tight end in the NFL is very hard, which is why some of the elite tight ends of our time took a few years to truly show their talents, as tight ends have to learn how to catch passes at the next level, and also prove their worth as a blocker. It is rare to see a tight end come into the league and immediately have a major impact.
For these reasons, tight end stats often don’t look “sexy,” and it is still rare, even in today’s pass-happy league, to have a 1,000-yard tight end, as those are usually reserved for the best of the best, like Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.
So why should we be excited about Noah Fant? Well, for starters, and as I just mentioned, Fant’s production in his rookie year is right on par with those we consider elite today. Additionally, Fant has greatly improved his ability as a blocker and proved to be a nice security blanket for Drew Lock this year.
Even in a year where Lock struggled, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel played meaningful snaps, and a rookie wide receiver started at quarterback for the Broncos, Fant managed to have an even better season.
In 2020, Fant managed to catch 62 passes (first on the team) for 673 yards and three touchdowns. His yards per reception took a hit, but it was clear that Lock trusted Fant in crucial situations and delivered.
In 2020, Fant was 6th in the league in targets, 6th in the league in yards, 7th in the league in receptions, and 3rd in yards after the catch, trailing only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce.
The Broncos have a top seven tight end on their hands, and it’s only his second year.
History would tell us that the Broncos offense is poised to improve in 2021, as Pat Shurmur appears to be returning, and the team will be returning nearly all of its starters from 2020.
Does that mean a bigger year for Noah Fant? I think it does. Fant proved his value in 2020 and there is no doubt he is TE1 in 2021. Now, is it up to him to take the necessary steps in the offseason to get even better.
The Denver Broncos will have a new general manager in 2021. That new GM is going to have to make some critical decisions right away.
In my opinion, I believe Fant can become a Pro Bowl tight end next year. He will be given every opportunity to do so no matter who the quarterback is. After years of mediocre tight end play in Denver, it seems as if we’ve struck Iowa gold.