The last few months have been a complete role reversal for Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson compared to the beginning of last season.
“More than anything I’m worried about being the first tight end taken,” Fant said. “That’s a big accomplishment. We come out here to compete. We come out here to run as fast as we can, throw up as much weight, so it’s gonna be fun.”
Fant and Hockenson were two of the best in the entire country and now they’re both preparing for the league at this week’s NFL Combine.
“No one knows what’s gonna happen until draft day, nobody,” Hockenson said. “I mean you don’t get your hopes up in this process, you don’t do anything, you go to work. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’m gonna continue to do.”
It’s now Hockenson with the buzz of being a potential top-20 draft pick, while Fant comes to the NFL Combine trying to make up ground.
“This is my moment to come and say, ‘Okay, here I am, this is what I can do,’ type of thing,” Fant said. “And the chips will fall where they may after that.”
Fant has more to gain with an impressive performance here in Indy. His raw athleticism is arguably his best trait and a good showing could put him alongside Hockenson for the first tight end taken in April.
“People will really get to see my speed,” Fant said. “They’ll really get to see my jumping ability. After bench, they’ll get to see my power, so yeah, people haven’t really got to see that yet. I’m hoping to put up big numbers.”
Both players’ draft outlook should be helped by the Iowa pedigree.
The Hawks are well known for having versatile tight ends — something both players say is a strength in their respective games.
“I love to block,” Hockenson said. “I love to run routes. I just really pride myself that I can do both, that I can do everything that the job requires as a tight end.”
“I was able to be in-line,” Fant said. “I was able to be flexed out. I was able to be an isolated receiver. Definitely a versatile place and they definitely develop their guys.”
Regardless when they’re selected, Fant and Hockenson will push the number of tight ends drafted under Kirk Ferentz to 11. Of course both players would like to join Dallas Clark as the only ones taken in the first round.
Former Hawkeye tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are hoping to become the 2nd and 3rd tight ends to be taken in the first round during the Kirk Ferentz era.
“No one knows what’s gonna happen until draft day, nobody,” said Hockenson. “I mean you don’t get your hopes up in this process, you don’t do anything, you go to work. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’m gonna continue to do.”
“This is my moment to come and say, ‘okay, here I am, this is what I can do’, type of thing. And the chips will fall where they may after that,” Fant added.
The 2019 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 25 and runs through Saturday, April 27.