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My Noah Fant tweet sparks some debate
Seaside Joe 1329: Can Fant be a little better?
Noah Fant likes being criticized. I mean it. Literally.
Check Noah Fant’s likes on Twitter and you’ll see that he went on a like-storm after the game on Sunday, all of people (including myself) criticizing him to some degree. My criticism was the lightest, by far.
Other tweets liked by Fant include saying that he’s going to be “flippin’ burgers” soon, “Noah Fant sucks,” and “Noah Fant can’t catch for shit.”
My critique, the same critique I’ve always had for him, and similar to the critiques I had for Gerald Everett a year ago, is that Noah Fant is an incomplete tight end who consistently falls short of expectations. Not just expectations of a starting tight end or a former first round pick, but of any player who gets targeted in the passing game for any amount of targets. I wish he was a little better, because then Fant would actually be good.
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Despite playing in a season-high 52 snaps and 73% of the offensive plays, Fant finished with one seven-yard catch on three targets. Though Fant is a regular part of the best offense he’s ever played in, he’s also posting career-worst stats in many key categories.
Fant is averaging 7.9 yards per catch and 6.0 yards per target. His 17-game projection would be 49 catches on 63 targets for 381 yards, with only two touchdowns and barely 15 first downs.
Fant caught 34 first downs on 93 targets in 2020 and 29 first downs on 90 targets in 2021. He has just six first downs in his first seven games and one thing Pete Carroll would definitely like from his tight end is moving the chains and gaining first downs. But Fant seems to regularly fall just shy of the chains and he’s rarely the player making the “Holy hell yes, thank you for catching that” catches.
Imagine if he was just a little better, then Fant could be that guy making the “Holy hell, thank you for catching that” catches. Those are the plays that make fans fall in love with receivers and tight ends. Not finishing those opportunities is what gets people to tweet nasty things about not being able to catch or helping the team.
With DK Metcalf expected to miss at least a little time (but not an extended absence according to Pete Carroll), Seattle’s offense will need more players to step up and help the team. Fant needs to be a little better.
Though most Seahawks fans would cite Will Dissly as the team’s top tight end, Fant actually has six more targets than Dissly this season. Dissly has caught 19-of-20 for 194 yards and three touchdowns, but he’s only played in 22 more snaps all year than Fant.
Colby Parkinson has played in 151 snaps, which is 112 fewer than Fant’s 263. All three tight ends are signed through 2023 and there’s more time to figure out the best rotation that works. So far, Dissly seems to be the only one who is working consistently, even if the combined forces of the trio has helped the Seahawks reach first place in the NFC West at 4-3.
But 105 of Geno Smith’s 215 passing attempts have gone to either Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf, nearly 50-percent of every Seattle passing play. Without Metcalf, some of those targets will go to Marquise Goodwin following his breakout two-touchdown performance against the Chargers on Sunday, and some could go to Dee Eskridge. However, Fant and Parkinson (nine catches on 10 targets and his 154 yards is only three yards fewer than Fant despite getting 16 fewer chances) must also carry the load.
Can he come closer to his draft status? More importantly, should teams stop picking tight ends in the first round?
The rise of tight ends as elite receivers in the last 10-20 years seems to only make evaluating the prospects at the position even harder. Fant is one of only nine tight ends to be drafted in the first round since 2011, including:
Tyler Eifert, Eric Ebron, David Njoku, Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, Hayden Hurst, T.J. Hockenson, and Kyle Pitts.
That’s a BAD list. It’s so bad it makes you wonder why people are so obsessed with first round running backs but pay absolutely no mind to first round tight ends. Most of those players do not deserve to start, they’e all had longer careers in part because teams keep giving them multiple chances and waiting for their development to reach a state of bliss.
It doesn’t seem like that bliss ever gets here.
At best, you’ve got a player like Njoku, who struggled and missed so much time over his first four years that if he played any other position, he might not still be on the Browns. With Kevin Stefanski as the head coach, Njoku has been better and he definitely has value now, but even still he’s not the dynamic “first round tight end” that everyone seems to have in mind on draft day.
Pitts, a top-five pick who did have 1,026 yards as a rookie, is only on pace this year 504 yards; Pitts has caught two career touchdowns in 23 games.
But Travis Kelce went in round three, George Kittle went in round five, Dissly went in round four, Mark Andrews went in round three, and Zach Ertz went in round two, as did Rob Gronkowski. One of the top rookies last year, Pat Freiermuth of the Steelers, was a late second round pick.
The Seahawks have Fant on the fifth-year option in 2023 at a guaranteed $6.85 million salary. Adding in the $9.25 million that Seattle is paying Will Dissly next year, that’s a considerable investment at tight end. It is also probable that the Seahawks will part with at least one of Fant or Parkinson in 2024, when both are free agents, so drafting a tight end in 2023 is not out of the question.
Taking one in the first round, or even on day two, might be.
Noah Fant is a great example of why and saying that is something that Noah Fant should like. Literally.