NAME: Noah Fant
POSITION: Tight End
JERSEY: No. 87
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-stars
D.O.B.: Not Available
Route Running –Runs a pretty diverse tree. Understands how to use his feet to create space, will toe drag on speed cuts, etc. Sets up his breaks well with angular stems to create additional space. Deep cross, seam route, fade, out, stop pattern and curl were all present on his film.
Hands –Cradles the football softly away from the body. Has made several late adjustments to the ball and still managed to successfully secure the catch. High point skills and ability in contested situations to squeeze the ball are top shelf as well.
Versatility –No limits as a receiver. Can run past you, jump over you, run through you…nightmare to cover and defend as a receiver. Has been moved all over the offensive set: flexed wide, played from in-line and put in the backfield to be put in motion and have momentum at the snap.
Contested Catch Ability –Length is problematic for defenders when paired with his leaping ability and ball skills, doesn’t leave a lot of room for defenders to play through him and attack the football. Instead forces defense to undercut all together or play through the body, where he braces for contact well.
Run After Catch Ability –Dynamic, explosive burst after the catch. He’s run away from safeties and corners, plays in a different gear than other TEs. Second gear is paired with good foot quickness and ability to side-step a tackler. Does not, however, have a ton of creativity to force false steps by tacklers.
Power At POA –Is never going to be the kind of player to collapse and create a lot of space off the edge with his hand in the dirt. Has much more success as a space blocker on the second level or stepping down on seal blocks from the slot. Lacks lower half mass.
Competitive Toughness – Functional strength isn’t especially high, particularly in head up situations. Athletic ability allows for constant adjustments and can at times work to out-leverage opponents. Pretty sturdy at the catch point and again on his route stems to run through contact.
Flexibility – One of the most free moving athletes I’ve seen in quite some time. Pretty special levels of body control and ability to disassociate his upper and lower halves to play with speed and still properly address the football at the catch point.
Balance –Looks like a wide receiver on his route stems and at the top of patterns, total control. Absorbs contact running down the field well and isn’t going to be uprooted or bumped out of his trajectory. Will over-compensate and lean as a blocker vs. heavier defenders.
Football Intelligence –Polished, impressive player. Has understanding of angles and how to use them advantageously and create extra room prior to his breaks. Has natural sense for locating the football and doesn’t compromise his routes or leverage over DBs by peeking too early.
BEST TRAIT – RAC Ability
WORST TRAIT – Power at POA
BEST FILM – Ohio State (2017)
WORST FILM – Penn State (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Noah Fant has the physical skills and receiving chops to be the next big thing at the TE position in the NFL. The league has never been friendlier to flex targets and Fant runs like a receiver and leaps like a basketball pro. Fant is a nightmare in space and will excel in a vertical passing offense that can implement him in the middle of the field. With soft hands and elite athletic ability, Fant should be a volume target at the NFL level and will have an impact fairly early into his pro career.
Routes – Was tasked with running an expansive route tree and features the athletic ability needed to separate and run away from coverage. Does need to improve his detail as a route runner. Can take unnecessary steps and his throttle down can be elongated. Generally does well to clear jams in the contact window with hand technique and the ability to reduce his surface area and work into his route.
Hands – Features strong hands that allow him to squeeze the ball firmly away from his body with arms extended in any direction. Routinely holds on through contact and greets the ball naturally. Digs out the low throws and has been given ample opportunities to do so in college.
Ball Skills – Clean ability to track the football in the air and adjust to the trajectory of the football. Hasn’t necessarily been a true 50/50 ball guy on account of his ability to separate. Love his ability to make adjustments to off target throws.
YAC Ability – Has the acceleration and speed to beat pursuit angles and pick up chunks of yards after the catch. Not a creative runner with the ball in his hands and he doesn’t necessarily tap into his elusive traits to make tacklers miss in space. Willing to be physical and drop his pads to challenge tacklers.
Play Speed – Is a true mismatch in terms of his size and ability to challenge defenses vertically. Most linebackers will struggle to keep pace with him down the field. Acceleration and speed make him productive after the catch. Glides in space.
Play Strength – Is a willing player in terms of physicality. Works hard as a blocker and will challenge tacklers with the ball in his hands. That said, his contact balance and hitting power is only modest. Will get bounced around as a blocker. Developing technique as a blocker and adding play strength will make him more effective.
In-line Blocking – Not a people-mover and his wins are stalemates. Will get worked back into gaps and fall off contact. Would not call him a liability but improving his technique in terms of hand fits, staying square and accelerating his feet needs to happen. Does a good job taking advantage of angles and working combo blocks.
Space Blocking – Does well to anticipate pursuit and seal in the second level. Effective working back across the formation as a lead blocker. Still has some issues staying square and falling off contact but he is mostly effective on the move.
Versatility – Is a viable option as a receiver to line up in the backfield, flexed or in-line with the skill set needed to make plays at every level of the field. Modest upside as an in-line blocker but is effective when flexed.
BEST TRAIT – Play Speed
WORST TRAIT – Play Strength
RED FLAGS – None
For a team in search of that x-factor weapon in the passing game that presents a size-speed mismatch for defenses, they would be well served by investing in Fant. Not only does Fant have exciting acceleration and burst, but his outstanding ball skills and hands make him a dynamic playmaking threat. For a player of his athletic profile, there is technical work needed as a route runner that can be developed to make him even more effective. Additionally, his upside as an in-line blocker is only modest but he does find success on the move hitting blocks. Fant has the upside to be a highly productive receiving tight end that profiles perfectly to today’s NFL.
Route-Running – Too much gear down into his route breaks, needs to drop his hips and accelerate on out-breaking routes. Gets open consistently due to pure athleticism, but attention to detail will have to improve moving forward. Does run a diverse route tree and will enter the NFL with experience running a variety of routes from every alignment. Has flashed the ability to work over press coverage the few times teams dared to jam him when he was flexed.
Ball Skills – Hasn’t made a living as an elevate and pluck guy, but is outstanding at tracking the ball over his shoulder down the field. Has flashed the ability to go up and get it in limited opportunities. Hands catcher who quickly tucks the rock away. Has shown good awareness to get his feet down in boundary catch situations. Smooth body control to twist and snag passes behind him. Very few drops.
Speed – Elite speed for a tight end. Probably going to run in the 4.5s. Consistently ran by defensive backs in man coverage. Wonderful vertical threat with the speed to separate even when he doesn’t explode out of his route break on post and corner patterns. Impossible to account for him with a linebacker if he goes deep.
Run Blocking – Way better blocker than he’s given credit for. Graded well as a move blocker and an in-line option. Technically sound and gets his hands inside the opponent to win first contact. Occasionally rag-dolled or falls off blocks, but for the most part stays latched and drives his feet into contact. Not a finisher, but competes to stay on his target. Good control in space to stalk his opponent and not overshoot his mark. Not asked to be the primary playside blocker or kick out defensive ends across the formation as often as T.J. Hockenson was.
Contested Catch – Every tight window throw I saw him involved in on tape, he came down with the football. Didn’t see many “you got mossed” reps, but comfortable in traffic and undeterred by expiring windows or pending hits. Good concentration to reel the ball in over the middle of the field and through coverage.
YAC – Not creative or dynamic after the catch, but has the long speed to house call a short one. Typically brought down by first good tackle attempt, but can eliminate pursuit angles with his speed. Not a tackle-breaker and does his best work before and during the catch.
Separation Quickness – Outstanding athlete with smooth movement skills to separate. Can be guilty of gearing down and rounding his breaks off, will be more dangerous when he hits hard cuts at full speed. Must vary his pace more to lull off coverage to sleep. Raw ability to separate from man coverage is rare for a tight end, just needs some polish. Biggest issue is how much he gets hung up on contact in his routes, subtle defensive backs will get away with knocking him off his path in the NFL. Has to handle chips better at line of scrimmage.
Pass Protection – Rarely left in pass protection, but in few examples he handled himself well. Has the length and attention to detail to make it work, even if he isn’t the most powerful blocker. Feet are smooth and he can mirror up the arc.
Competitive Toughness – Doesn’t get enough credit for how much he gets after defenders. Willing blocker who competes. Isn’t a grinder like Hockenson, but shows plenty of toughness in his playing style nonetheless. Has opted out of going out of bounds to put a shoulder down.
Athleticism/Size – Outstanding size, length and athleticism for the position. Should be a top tester in Indy. Some NFL teams may want him to add a little more bulk to his frame.
BEST TRAIT – Speed/Athleticism
WORST TRAIT – Route Running
RED FLAGS – None
Probably the best athlete at his position in the 2019 NFL Draft, Noah Fant has rare vertical ability for a tight end which should lead to him being a coveted mismatch option in April’s draft. Fant can stretch the field, run a variety of routes and make tough catches outside his frame, all while being a fully capable in-line or flex blocker. Fant’s route-running will definitely need to improve at the next level, and I’d love to see more creativity and elusiveness after the catch, but traits like his should not be on the board for long on April 25th. He’s a guy you trust to figure out the details with good coaching in the NFL.