Noah Fant

West Rumors: Broncos, Bell, Rams

Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins will not travel with the team to New England for the rescheduled Broncos-Patriots game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the team announced Saturday. Modkins, 49, is in his third season as Denver’s running backs coach. He is not experiencing symptoms from the virus, according to the team, which has performed the customary contact tracing after this positive test. The former Bills and 49ers offensive coordinator is a holdover from the Vance Joseph regime and has been retained despite the Broncos changing OCs the past two offseasons. Modkins has been an NFL assistant since the 2008 season. Modkins’ son, Jett, is a Broncos intern and lives with his father. Jett Modkins will not make the trip either, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. The Broncos will also be without Melvin Gordon from their backfield mix Sunday.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Le’Veon Bell‘s Chiefs deal will come with a $1MM base salary, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Dolphins were believed to be offering more money and potentially a multiyear deal, but another report indicated Miami did not dangle two years in its Bell proposal. Bell will have around $1MM more available to him through incentives. One of those incentives will be based around Bell’s workload. Bell’s Chiefs contract, to some degree, lessen the Jets’ burden. They owed the former All-Pro back approximately $6MM after releasing him after five games.
  • Another team’s running backs coach will be out of action as well. Rams RBs coach Thomas Brown blew out his Achilles’ tendon during practice Thursday, Sean McVay confirmed. In his first season as an NFL assistant, Brown joined the Rams’ staff this offseason. The 34-year-old position coach will undergo surgery next week.
  • Drew Lock is set to return as the Broncos‘ quarterback Sunday. He will have far from his optimal group of skill-position players. Phillip Lindsay will play; so will Jerry Jeudy. However, Denver will be down Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler. Fant suffered an ankle injury in Denver’s win over the Jets more than two weeks ago; Hamler reinjured the hamstring he pulled during training camp. Lock was able to target Courtland Sutton when he last played (Week 2), but Denver’s No. 1 wide receiver is out for the season with an ACL tear. Lock will have a difficult task against the Patriots, who will have Stephon Gilmore back after his stay on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Injury Updates: Chubb, Looney, Darnold, Fant,

It’s been a bad year for injuries, and unfortunately we’ve already heard reports of significant ones to guys like O.J. Howard and Austin Ekeler this Sunday. Here’s the latest batch of updates as Week 4 winds down:

  • Browns running back Nick Chubb got rolled up on in scary fashion, with his knee twisting under a Cowboys defender. Fortunately it looks like Cleveland dodged a bullet, as a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com that the team is “cautiously optimistic” he didn’t suffer a torn ACL. He’ll have an MRI on Monday to tell the full story, but it looks like he isn’t going to be done for the year.
  • Chubb wasn’t the only one to go down with a knee injury in the same game. Cowboys center Joe Looney also hurt his knee and was quickly ruled out, which had Dallas fans holding their breath. Like with Chubb however it appears it could’ve been worse, as Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that there’s “hope the injury is not of season-ending variety.” Dallas is already banged up on the offensive line, and starting right tackle La’el Collins was just ruled out for the year due to hip surgery, so this would be a big loss. Rookie fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz filled in after Looney got hurt.
  • Sam Darnold hurt his shoulder early in the Jets’ Thursday Night Football game, and although he was able to return to the loss to the Broncos and keep playing, it appears he isn’t out of the woods yet. Darnold has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and is in danger of missing New York’s Week 5 game against the Cardinals, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “We just need to make sure we lay everything out and kind of see where we go from here, what’s best for him, not just next week but long term,” head coach Adam Gase explained. Darnold has struggled mightily in his third season, and considering this is clearly the Jets’ easiest game for the foreseeable future, it would be great if he could play. If he’s unable to go, veteran Joe Flacco would draw the spot start.
  • Broncos tight end Noah Fant also went down on Thursday night, suffering an ankle injury. Although he was carte to the locker room it fortunately isn’t a season-ending broken ankle or anything of the sort. That being said he will be week to week and is expected to miss Denver’s Week 5 game against the Patriots, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). You’re probably well aware of the Broncos’ injury woes this season, as players have been going down left and right. At 1-3 and without practically half of their starting lineup, it’s looking like a lost season for Denver. The 20th overall pick of last year’s draft had been playing well, with 19 catches for 219 yards and two scores through three and a half games before going down.

Broncos To Sign First-Round Pick Noah Fant

The Broncos have agreed to terms with first-round pick Noah Fant, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The deal will pay the tight end $12.6MM and includes a fifth-year team option for the 2023 season. 

[RELATED: Latest On Broncos, Chris Harris]

Fant set collegiate career highs in catches (39) and receiving yards (519) last year to go along with seven touchdown receptions. Before that, he put himself on the national map in 2017 with a team-leading eleven TD catches.

Selected with the No. 20 overall pick, Fant profiles as the Broncos’ top receiving tight end. The Broncos also have tight ends Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, Bug Howard, Austin Fort, and Troy Fumagalli on the 90-man roster.

With Fant inked to his rookie deal, the Broncos have just three unsigned draft picks: offensive lineman Dalton Risner, quarterback Drew Lock and defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Jones, Brown, Bills, Raiders

Beyond Kyler Murray‘s long-rumored Cardinals fit, landing spots for this draft’s other top quarterbacks are difficult to determine. But Daniel Jones, despite not exactly having impressive college statistics, has gained more steam as a first-round pick. One team has the Duke prospect as the top quarterback on its board, according to Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter). The Giants are believed to be high on him. So are the Patriots. While one scout wondered (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com) if the former Blue Devils signal-caller would slip to the third round had he not played under David Cutcliffe, who coached both Manning brothers when they were college passers, another scout and a former GM said (via NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig) they each would take Jones over Drew Lock. It certainly looks Jones will land in the first round next week.

Here is the latest from the 2019 draft talent pool:

  • Another first-round hopeful, Marquise Brown, also looks like a lock to hear his name called Thursday. The Oklahoma-honed speedster may be the only guaranteed wideout to go off the board in Round 1, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes, after speaking with NFL staffers. Said execs then place Ole Miss alums D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as possible first-rounders, per Miller. That would stand to make the second round potentially filled with receiver investments. The 49ers have some names in mind.
  • On the subject of the 49ers, they visited with tight end Noah Fant recently, per Sirius XM Radio’s Alex Marvez (on Twitter). This profiles as an interesting use of a visit, with the 49ers closely connected to Nick Bosa at No. 2 and not needing a tight end. But San Francisco did do well with its past Iowa investment at this position, with George Kittle breaking out in a major way in 2018.
  • Despite Rashan Gary‘s past as a top-10 national recruit and his Combine performance, another report has indicated his stock has dipped a bit. After a Thursday report pointed to the Michigan defensive lineman dropping, Miller adds teams are concerned about how little his athleticism translated to production (9.5 sacks in three seasons). Additionally, Miller doubles down on the medical concerns surrounding Gary. Some scouts believe there will be issues on that front, potentially with Gary’s shoulder, which was a trouble spot during his Wolverines run.
  • Ed Oliver‘s stock has risen a bit in the days leading up to the draft, and the Bills are in play for the interior defender at No. 9, Miller writes, adding Buffalo wants to add a bona fide interior pass-rushing presence to complement the space-eating defensive tackles it currently employs.
  • The Raiders ditched their scouting staff going into the draft and are expected to overhaul the department under new GM Mike Mayock. On draft weekend, Oakland’s non-Mayock/Jon Gruden staffers involved in the three-day event will be assistant director of player personnel Trey Scott and director of football administration Tom Delaney, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Delaney has been with the Raiders dating back to the first Gruden era; Scott rose to his current position under Reggie McKenzie‘s watch two years ago.

Draft Notes: Packers, Dillard, White, Fins

Midway through a rather notable offseason, given the recent behind-the-curtain look at their previous power structure, the Packers are investigating some high-end quarterback prospects. They are obviously set at sports’ marquee position, but with Aaron Rodgers set to turn 36 by season’s end, Green Bay is at a similar point compared to when it last made a major quarterback investment. The Packers will host Drew Lock on a visit Tuesday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). They also tried to set up a summit with Daniel Jones, but the parties’ schedules did not line up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter). The Packers took Rodgers when Brett Favre was 36 and sat him for three years. While Green Bay pulling the trigger on a passer would be rather surprising, especially given Rodgers’ contract status, the team does have two first-round picks this year.

Here is the latest from the draft world, staying on the subject of quarterbacks:

  • Lock will also meet with the Chargers, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Teams have ramped up their signal-caller-related preparation, in the event Kyler Murray does not go No. 1, according to Robinson, who notes some teams believe this year’s passers could slide a bit should Murray not be the Cardinals’ choice atop the draft. Some modest steam picked up on this notion earlier Monday.
  • The Dolphins, who already met with Jones, will head to the Duke campus to work out the former Blue Devil starter, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Teams only have a few more days to host prospects on “30” visits but can still work them out after that deadline passes. Miami will also host Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Devin White‘s stock has risen during the pre-draft process, to the point he may be the rare off-ball linebacker to be picked in the top five. One of the teams holding such a selection, the Raiders, brought in White for a visit, Rapoport tweets. The Buccaneers, who hold pick No. 5, have been closely connected to the LSU ‘backer. The Raiders have the No. 4 overall pick. Oakland, which also holds the Nos. 24 and 27 selections, will meet with tight end Noah Fant, on Monday as well, Rapoport tweets. The Raiders lost their starting tight end of the past two seasons, Jared Cook, in free agency.
  • For weeks, the Jets have been viewed as a team that would love to trade down. They are meeting with a prospect Tuesday that would support the fact this is a consideration. Ed Oliver will visit the Jets, per Schefter (on Twitter). While the defensive tackle is a surefire first-round talent, he has not been mocked as a player who would be a consideration at No. 3 overall.
  • The Titans are visiting with defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, per Rapoport (on Twitter). This is the Notre Dame-developed defender’s second known visit, the first having come with the Saints recently. Tillery remains in rehab after surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
  • Not much has surfaced about which teams are researching an Andre Dillard pick. That has changed. The Washington State tackle prospect is visiting the Falcons on Monday and will meet with the Chargers later this week, Schefter tweets. Additionally, Schefter adds the first-round offensive line hopeful has already visited or worked out for a host of teams — the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars, Bills, Texans, Bengals, Packers, Redskins.

Jets Host LB Josh Allen, TE Noah Fant

With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, the Jets are ramping up their draft efforts. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the team is hosting Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen today. The team also had Iowa tight end Noah Fant in for a visit yesterday.

The interest in Allen isn’t much of a surprise, as the Jets were listed among the five teams that the linebacker would be visiting (along with the 49ers, Raiders, Giants and Lions). There were even some whispers during the defender’s pro day that he would ultimately be selected third-overall by the Jets. Allen clearly benefited from staying in school for his season year, registering 17 sacks this past season. He also finished the 2018 campaign with 56 tackles, five forced fumbles, and 21.5 tackles for loss.

Assuming Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa are off the board by the Jets’ third-overall pick, you could make an argument that Allen would be the best player available. The edge defender has generally been ranked alongside Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in mock drafts and prospect rankings.

The interest in Fant is a bit surprising. While the tight end is generally considered to be one of the best prospects at his position (along with teammate T.J. Hockenson), there’s little chance the organization selects him with the third pick. Plus, while Fant’s draft stock is varied, it’s expected that if he’s not selected in the first round, he’d be an early-second-rounder. The Jets sent their second-rounder to the Colts in last year’s blockbuster, although they are armed with a pair of third-rounders. In other words, the Jets could easily make a trade to move up in the draft.

Fant was a touchdown machine at Iowa, hauling in 18 touchdowns between the 2017 and 2018 season. In New York, he’d provide Sam Darnold with another red zone target, and he’d team up with All-Rookie member Chris Herndon to form a formidable tight end duo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Simmons, 49ers, Patriots, Jets

Linked to both Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason, which involved extensive talks about a deal for the latter Pro Bowl wide receiver, the 49ers are shifting their focus to draft-eligible wideouts. They have been closely tied to Nick Bosa with their No. 2 overall pick, but at No. 36, wide receivers appear to be on San Francisco’s radar. Receiver prospects N’Keal Harry and Deebo Samuel intrigue the 49ers, with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report indicating on his Stick to Football podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area) that the team is zeroing in on one of these two — with the Arizona State product perhaps grading slightly higher than the South Carolina alum — with their second-round pick. Both players have met with the 49ers, with Samuel working with Kyle Shanahan‘s staff at the Senior Bowl. The 49ers cut Pierre Garcon this offseason and have Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis sitting as the top wideouts on the roster. That may change by Day 2 of the draft.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Jeffery Simmons‘ pre-draft tour continues to take shape. The Mississippi State-developed defensive lineman traveled to Indianapolis for his Combine recheck, due to the ACL tear he suffered while preparing for the draft, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets positive reviews emerged regarding Simmons’ recovery. Following the Indianapolis trip, Simmons has visits with the Cardinals and Dolphins lined up, Rapoport adds. Simmons’ Browns meeting has already occurred, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Simmons, who finished with 18 tackles for loss last season, is expected to miss the 2019 season but was viewed as a surefire first-round pick prior to his knee injury.
  • Three pass-catching prospects visited the Patriots on Thursday. Samuel joined wideout A.J. Brown and tight end Noah Fant on the visit, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Having lost Rob Gronkowski and with Julian Edelman entering his age-33 season, the Patriots are in need of aerial weaponry aid. New England has added Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris this offseason. There will certainly be more additions to Tom Brady‘s receiving corps, through the draft and/or trades.
  • Is D.K. Metcalf‘s stock slipping? The other Ole Miss wide receiver prospect wowed those in attendance at the Combine but never surpassed 650 yards in a season with the Rebels. While he has been mocked in the first round consistently, Albert Breer of SI.com surveyed some teams who would not use a first-round pick on the physical specimen. Metcalf ranks as the No. 19 overall prospect (and No. 2 wideout) on Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com’s big board. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN’s latest mock (Insider link) has Metcalf going to the Packers at No. 12.
  • While pass rusher looks like the Jets‘ biggest need, the team appears to believe cornerback resides higher in its deficiency queue than the offensive line, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Jets made a bigger splash on their offensive front this offseason, in acquiring Kelechi Osemele, but did not make big bids for UFA centers. The Jets graded as Football Outsiders’ worst line, per the adjusted line yards metric, last season. New York lost Buster Skrine and has not made an effort to bring back Morris Claiborne. And buyer’s remorse may be setting in on the Jets’ Trumaine Johnson signing, pointing to Gang Green being in on corners come draft weekend.
  • The 49ers will host defensive end prospect Brian Burns in the coming days, the Florida State-honed prospect said during an appearance on Chris Simms Unbuttoned (via NBC Sports Bay Area) the 49ers are on his visit list. It would appear Burns, projected as a first-rounder, would be a 49ers option only if they traded out of their No. 2 overall slot.

NFL Draft Rumors: Metcalf, Bills, Bucs

Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf will take a Top 30 visit with the Bills on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Metcalf, who boasts the most impressive physical tools of any wide receiver in this year’s class, could be an option for Buffalo with the No. 9 overall pick.

Some have knocked Metcalf for his lack of natural catching ability, but he had no trouble reeling in the ball in 2017 when he averaged 16.6 yards per catch and scored seven touchdowns for Ole Miss. There’s also some concern about Metcalf’s health, but he was cleared for all football activities in January following his October neck surgery.

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown will visit the Buccaneers on Monday, a source tells Rapoport (on Twitter). The Bucs could use another wide receiver after losing DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, but it’s not clear whether they’d be willing to use the No. 5 overall pick at that position.
  • Iowa tight end Noah Fant will visit with the Lions on Monday, Rapoport reports. Fant registered 518 receiving yards and a team-high seven touchdowns in his final campaign with the Hawkeyes. The Lions could use a player like Fant after Levine Toilolo, Luke Willson, and Michael Roberts underwhelmed last year. Recently, the Lions strengthened the TE group by adding Jesse James, but there’s still room for improvement.
  • Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker will get together with the Steelers, per RapSheet. Last year, Baker captured the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. But, at 5’11 and 193 pounds, Baker doesn’t offer ideal size for the position.
  • Washington tackle Kaleb McGary will visit with the Patriots on Monday and the Packers on Tuesday, Rapoport hears. There has been some speculation that McGary could be employed as a guard at the pro level.
  • The Giants are hosting Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Rapoport hears. The Giants are armed with picks at No. 6 and 17, though one of those selections may be spent on drafting Eli Manning‘s successor.
  • Charlotte guard Nate Davis will take a Top 30 visit with the Bills, Rapoport hears.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, Flowers, Tate

Patriots owner Robert Kraft will likely not face many legal repercussions from his prostitution charges, according to a Florida criminal defense attorney (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). Kraft will probably be required to pay a several hundred dollar fine and attend counseling of some sort, at which point the charges may be dropped.

But the consequences from an NFL standpoint are likely to be much more severe. Volin believes commissioner Roger Goodell should “come down hard on Kraft” and impose at least a six-game suspension and a hefty fine (the maximum fine is $500K). Kraft is obviously one of the most prominent and powerful owners in the league, but he may be relieved of some of his duties (he is a part of five major ownership committees). He was supposed to guide the league through a potential 2021 lockout and lead negotiations with television networks when those contracts expire in 2022, but that is all in question now.

Volin still believes Kraft will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his induction will now be delayed, and the 77-year-old may not be around to enjoy his enshrinement when it does happen (Volin says Kraft was likely to get the HOF nod in a year or two). And, while Kraft will almost certainly not be forced to sell the club or hand it off to his son, Jonathan, this incident will be a permanent blot on his reputation.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few on-field notes from Foxborough:

  • Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers will be a hot commodity if he hits the open market, but Jim McBride of the Boston Globe says locking him up to a long-term deal is high on New England’s list of priorities. The Pats are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Flowers, and they are unlikely to keep him if it takes an Olivier Vernon-esque deal to do so (five years, $85MM). However, McBride believes Flowers will ultimately return to New England on a multi-year contract, even if he tests the free agent market first.
  • In the same piece linked above, McBride looks at the other Patriots eligible for free agency and their chances of returning to the club. For instance, he believes specialists Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen will certainly be back, while Eric Rowe and Danny Shelton are more likely to find homes elsewhere.
  • Assuming the Patriots don’t trade out of the first round, Doug Kyed of NESN.com sees tight ends Noah Fant (Iowa) and Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) and DB Taylor Rapp (Washington) as potential fits.
  • Golden Tate would be a good fit in the Patriots’ offense, but Kyed does not believe the Pats will be willing to meet Tate’s asking price.
  • Brothers Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty have announced that they will continue their careers in 2019 after some retirement speculation prior to the Super Bowl. Devin is still under contract with the Patriots, but Jason is eligible for free agency.

Iowa TE Noah Fant To Enter NFL Draft

Noah Fant will forgo his final year at Iowa in order to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Fant is widely viewed as one of the top tight ends in this year’s class and may even be a Top 10 selection. 

Since the very first time I put on a pair of football pads as a child, it has been by dream to play in the NFL,” Fant wrote. “I am very excited for what the future holds and extremely humbled by the amazing opportunity in front of me.”

Fant, understandably, will not risk injury by playing in Iowa’s bowl game this year. His final season on campus ends with a First Team All-Big Ten Conference selection, 518 receiving yards, and a team-high seven touchdowns. All in all, he leaves Iowa with 78 career catches for 1,083 yards and 19 TDs.

At 6’5″, Fant has ideal size for the tight end position and will likely be the first TE to come off of the board. That’s a strong endorsement of his skills considering that this year’s crop at the position is considered to be rather solid. It’s certainly a better group than the 2018 lot as Hayden Hurst was the only tight end selected in the first round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.