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No program has produced more high-caliber tight ends than Iowa since Kirk Ferentz took over the reins in 1999. Nine Hawkeyes tight ends have been drafted into the NFL since that time, with that number certain to grow to 11 once Fant and teammate T.J. Hockenson hear their names called among the first 64 picks this spring.
Playing his prep ball in Nebraska and setting the school receptions record at Omaha South High School, Fant no doubt recognized Ferentz's proven track record with tight ends and opted to go out of state. He flashed the playmaking that would later make him a star as a true freshman, hauling in nine passes for 70 yards and a score.
Fant exploded for 11 touchdowns on just 30 grabs (for 494 yards) as a sophomore before setting career-highs with 39 catches for 513 yards and seven more TDs as a junior before making the early NFL jump.
A new-age NFL tight end who projects as more of an overgrown wide receiver rather than a traditional in-line blocker, though he is competitive in this area. Exceptional athlete for the position with eye-popping speed and explosiveness as a leaper (39.5" vertical jump), excelling as a catch-and-run seam threat and red zone monster with 18 TDs scored in final 24 games at Iowa.
Burst into his release stands out regardless of whether he's lined up in a three-point stance, in the slot or split out wide, offering his NFL play-caller lots of creativity to create mismatches.
Fant is competitive as a blocker, showing good hand placement and reasonable strength (20 repetitions of 225 lbs at the Combine) but lacks the raw power (especially in his lower body) and nastiness to generate movement. Further, he needs to add some glass to his diet. He can get pushed off his route and fails to break tackles at the second level consistently enough despite typically towering over the DBs covering him.
Projection: First Round
--Field Level Media