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Scouting Report: tight end Noah Fant a potential target for the Buffalo Bills in 2019 NFL Draft

What’s everyone saying about former Iowa Hawkeye tight end, Noah Fant

The 2019 NFL Draft is nearly here and perhaps you’d like to get to know a bit more about some possible targets of the Buffalo Bills. While the addition of Tyler Kroft this offseason helps the tight end room, the near consensus is that Buffalo would be wise to add a playmaker at the position. Let’s take a minute and see what everyone is saying about former Iowa Hawkeyes tight end, Noah Fant.

Noah Fant has declared for the NFL Draft as a junior, which might have taken him off the Buffalo Bills’ board a couple years ago. Breaking out as a sophomore in 2017, Fant pulled in 30 receptions for 494 yards, which is an incredible 16.5 yards per catch (led the nation among tight ends). Fant also scored 11 touchdowns that year (tied for the lead and school record).

Fant cooled off in 2018 from a yards-per-catch and touchdown standpoint but was still very productive with a stat line of 39 catches, 519 yards and seven touchdowns. Noah Fant is often discussed in the same breath as former teammate T.J. Hockenson. There’s some debate as to which player is the better prospect, with the possibility one could be the first tight end off the board.

Here’s a touchdown to enjoy

There aren’t many red flags for Noah Fant. A concussion stands out as the most severe prior injury. Off-field concerns don’t appear to be an issue at all. There are whispers of locker room issues with Fant’s brother publicly questioning Fant’s under-utilization. There are suggestions that Fant was also personally displeased and that it may have contributed to his decision to declare following his junior season.

Percentiles refer to comparisons within the tight-end group. The number of “through the roof” numbers for Noah Fant make others look worse than they actually are. Height and hand size are both average for the position, for example. His weight is a little low but his wingspan is a little above average.

Similarly, Fant’s bench press is perfectly average, though the “dip” in the chart makes it look bad. Now the fun numbers. Everything in the speed and agility departments are well above average, with only his 20-yard shuttle being below 90th percentile. Put the whole chart together and Fant profiles as a slim tight end with top-notch athleticism. His physical measurements alone make him an intriguing potential selection. Even when sorting the spider chart to compare Noah Fant to all “ball-carriers” and “skill positions” he ranks well.

And another touchdown to enjoy

The consensus on Noah Fant’s strengths echo his physical measures to a large degree. Route running as well as deep speed (Fant ran a 4.50 second 40) are noted as positives. The ability to track the ball, adjust and leap to get it if needed are talked about as if Fant played wide receiver rather than tight end.

Fant’s weaknesses often come back to his lower-than-average weight. Blocking, the ability to survive contact with his route intact and focus on the ball in traffic are routinely cited as concerns. In his scouting report, Lace Zierlien of graded Fant at 5.90 which, translates to “Chance to become NFL starter.” It’s very close to “Should become instant NFL starter” but not quite.

Blocking example. Not flawless but effective

Putting it all together, Fant’s profile drifts very close to wide receiver territory with a tight end’s size. A team looking to draft Fant would likely be able to utilize his athleticism right away while refining blocking technique in an attempt to make him a more complete player at his position.

Per Dan Lavoie, Fant would compare to Eric Ebron or Evan Engram as a speedy tight end. For Buffalo he would stylistically compare most closely to Jason Croom being more of a receiver than a blocking tight end.