ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP)Noah Fant parlayed his outstanding performance at the NFL scouting combine last year into a first-round phone call from the Denver Broncos and the best season among the league’s rookie tight ends in 2019.
What he’s aiming for this year is to join the league’s elite at his position, including two stars who square off Sunday in Super Bowl 54: Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and San Francisco’s George Kittle.
”Yeah, if you play tight end, you watch the best tight ends, so Travis Kelce is definitely one to watch,” Fant said. ”I think he’s a very savvy player.
Although Kelce led all tight ends this season with 97 catches for 1,229 yards and five touchdowns, Fant counts Kittle (85 catches, 1,053 yards, five TDs) as the top tight end in the game today.
”I have a little bit of a bias toward George because I went to school with him,” Fant said.
Fant regularly texted his former University of Iowa teammate as he navigated the ups and owns of his rookie season, one that included three big drops in a loss to Kansas City in October and a 75-yard TD catch in a win over Cleveland in November.
”Anything I ask of him he gives good feedback and good knowledge and obviously he knows what he’s doing,” Fant said.
Fant figures he’ll join the ranks of Kittle, Kelce and Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz soon.
”I’m not big into making projections or anything like that,” Fant said, ”but it’s definitely the goal and I feel like I have the ability to get there.”
Step 1 is watching Kittle and Kelce go at it on Sunday.
Step 2 is a makeover of his offseason workout regimen.
Fant, who set club rookie tight end records with 40 catches for 562 yards and caught three touchdowns in 2019, is switching his workout program from one designed to impress coaches and general managers and to kill it at the combine to one more focused on football.
”Training for coming into the NFL, that’s all combine training, right? It’s all to get you to run the fastest, weigh the most that you can, things that don’t necessarily translate into football,” Fant said in a phone interview from Los Angeles where he was signing Panini America football cards ahead of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
”So, that’s my plan this year is just to work out specifically for football, get those moments to do the field work, lift weights specifically to help me get stronger in certain areas that will directly correlate to the football field.”
Another thing that will change for Fant in 2020 is veteran play-caller Pat Shurmur running Denver’s offense following the firing of rookie offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.
”I was just as surprised as anybody,” Fant said. ”We had gotten some good games with Coach Scangarello and this is my first experience of coaches coming in and out like that. But Coach Shurmur, I’ve heard great things, heard that he runs a great offense, he’s a very experienced play-caller.
”Tight ends in his offense have done really well. I mean, really well. So, I’m excited to see what he has in store.”
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