Noah Fant NFL Draft profile: Everything to know about pro day, measurements, strengths, team fits
Noah Fant is one of the best pure athletes in this draft class
Noah Fant's athleticism can't be overstated. At 6-foot-4, 249 pounds, he's built like a tight end, yes, but he plays like deep-threat wide receiver who can outrun everyone else on the field. If you're looking for a conventional inline blocking tight end, Fant isn't it. That doesn't mean he can't block, but his strengths lie in the passing game; he can line up anywhere on the field and immediately create matchup problems for the defense. Think Evan Engram.
After nine receptions for 70 yards and a score as a freshman in 2016, Fant tied for the lead in touchdowns scored by a tight end when he tallied 11. He also had 30 receptions for 494 yards and a gaudy 16.5 yards-per-catch average. Last season, playing alongside T.J. Hockenson, another first-round talent, Fant had 39 catches for 519 yards and seven scores.
Among all FBS tight ends, Fant ranked sixth in Pro Football Focus' yards-per-route-run metric and was in the top seven in deep pass receptions, deep pass yards and third in receptions from the slot.
Combine/pro day results
33 1/2 inches
9 3/4 inches
Here's Fant blazing a 4.5 40 at the combine:
Strengths: Fant is off-the-charts athletic. He's a long strider who eats up cushions quickly. He can also seal the edge in the run game though that isn't his strong suit. Fant can line up in slot, where he is matchup nightmare for every linebacker, most safeties and a lot of cornerbacks too. He gets in an out of his breaks almost effortlessly and snatches balls out of the air.
Just a reminder: Speed kills.
Weaknesses: Fant isn't your typical inline blocker and while he can play anywhere on the field he's most dangerous in passing situations. That said, don't think Fant can't block at all because he can:
O.J. Howard. Fant is a relatively rare tight end prospect and that's mainly due to his athletic talent. He crushed his combine workout and doesn't play slower or any less explosive than some of times and measurements indicate. Like Howard, he's a big-play waiting to happen, and actually Fant is a bit more consistent in the open field after the catch than Howard was. Both have elite top end speed for the position that allows them to take a short route the distance if given space. Fant and Howard were both well-versed but not dominant as blockers in college.
NFL teams in play to draft Fant
Jaguars: If the Jaguars take a tight end at No. 7 it will almost certainly be Fant's teammate, T.J. Hockenson. But if Fant should somehow still be on the board at No. 38, expect Jacksonville to pounce. Offensive line also makes some sense but if you're looking to get new quarterback Nick Foles a ready-made security blanket Fant checks those boxes.
Lions: Detroit is on the clock at No. 8, a pick after the Jags. And like Jacksonville, they seem more likely to target Hockenson early. But again, if Fant somehow survives to pick No. 43, the Lions would be a likely landing spot. Yes, Detroit just signed former Steeler Jesse James but he's a No. 2 tight end who is more blocker than receiver. Behind James? Michael Roberts, who had nine catches last season, and Jerome Cunningham, who spent most of 2018 on the practice squad. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola comprise a solid receivers corps but Matthew Stafford would certainly welcome an upgrade at tight end.
Packers: Of the teams mentioned here, the Packers seem most likely to take Fant in the first round, either at No. 12 or at No. 30. New coach Matt LaFleur will have a fully healthy Aaron Rodgers but Jimmy Graham is 32 years old an coming off a 55-reception season, his lowest career total over 16 games. Behind Graham on the depth chart? Evan Baylis, the former undrafted free agent signed to the Packers practice squad in December.
Raiders: Oakland has plenty of needs, most of them on defense, but they also have three first-round picks and then the 35th selection. It's fair to assume that they'll target at tight end, probably not at No. 4, but certainly at No. 24 or No. 27. And if Fant is on th board then, Oakland could pull the trigger; Jared Cook, who led the team with 68 receptions a season ago, is gone, and Fant would be a welcome addition to an offense that has already added Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams this offseason.
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