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Iowa tight end Noah Fant has NFL potential, like many Hawkeyes tight ends before him.

Iowa tight end Noah Fant has NFL potential — but does he leave after 2018?

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ANSWER: If Iowa tight end Noah Fant catches around 11 touchdowns and averages 16.5 yards per catch again, he’ll top the leaderboard for tight end prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. In fact, even if he doesn’t exceed his 2017 numbers, Fant could be a first-round draft pick next year. I’m sure that would tilt him toward the NFL.

Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 242 pounds, Fant is just about the perfect size for a tight end. He’s a mismatch when split wide against cornerbacks — which we saw in a 25-yard touchdown against Ohio State — because he’s too big. No linebacker can match up with him in coverage. Few players at any position possess Fant’s athletic ability and he’s still growing. He’s gained 22 pounds since arriving at Iowa and he’s only 20 years old.

Perhaps the best part for Iowa this year and Fant’s future is his humility.

“I feel like I can definitely get better in the run game,” Fant said. “I can always improve my run blocking. That’s something I try to focus on, that finer techniques and the different ways that you can block. 

“As far as route-running, I want to get my routes more crisp than they were last season. I feel there’s definitely still room to improve on those. As far as trying to be a leader for the younger guys on the team.”

Last year Fant caught 30 passes for 494 yards. He was the Big Ten’s best tight end last year despite his third-team status.

Iowa’s tradition of sending tight ends to the NFL precedes Fant, but he’s at or near the top of the list of Hawkeyes tight ends. Barring a catastrophic injury, Fant will be the next in line.

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