From Marv Cook to Dallas Clark to Fiedorowicz and Kittle, Iowa is a factory streamlined toward producing NFL caliber tight ends. This year, the Hawkeyes boast two elite bookends, headlined by Noah Fant.
Comparisons to the Giants’ Evan Engram will come easy to analysts singing Fants’ praises, but that comp doesn’t quite capture the whole picture. It’s true that Fant is a very good receiver. He is quick off his release, but can also be subtle in his route running, hesitating for a split second to feign blocking before bursting past a lulled defender. Fant has very sure hands, even in traffic, and excels at making (whole body) adjustments to catch poorly thrown balls. Fant is a fantastic receiver, but stories of his total inability to block have been greatly exaggerated. While he’s never going to be mistaken for Rhett Ellison setting the edge, Fant is an adequate blocker, especially considering his contributions in the pass game.
When Fant has to move with a defender he’s blocking, things break down a little. Instead of disengaging, Fant has a tendency to hold on the opponent’s jersey— an easy and costly flag. Because of this, he (more than occasionally) loses the defensive end that he’s trying to contain, effectively blowing up runs to his side.
Fantasy points are all that matters, and Noah Fant should produce. He blocks enough to keep himself on the field, and will give opposing defenses fits.