NFL Draft: Omaha-native Noah Fant taken in first round

Photo courtesy: MGN/NFL
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University of Iowa junior tight end Noah Fant was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft in downtown Nashville. Fant was the 20th player picked overall.

Fant is just the third Hawkeye tight end ever taken in the first round, joining Dallas Clark, who was picked 24th by the Indianapolis Colts in 2003 and teammate T.J. Hockenson, who was taken earlier Thursday by the Detroit Lions. He is the ninth first-rounder under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

It marks the first time that two tight ends from the same school have been taken in the first round. It is also the first time the Hawkeyes have had two first-round selections since 1997 when defensive back Tom Knight was chosen by Arizona (seventh) and offensive lineman Ross Verba by Green Bay (30th).

During Iowa's 9-4 season in 2018, Fant caught 39 passes for 519 yards and a team-high seven receiving touchdowns. For his career, he had 78 receptions for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns. The touchdown total is the most by a Hawkeye tight end.

The Broncos, who have Hawkeyes Josey Jewell (linebacker) and Casey Kreiter (long snapper) on the roster, are coming off a 6-10 season, third in the AFC West Division. They were 19th of 32 NFL teams in passing yards with 3,695 in 16 games (230.9 yards per game). Denver tight ends Jeff Heueman and Matt LaCosse had 31 and 24 receptions last season.

Iowa has had at least one player drafted in every NFL Draft since 1978. Fant is the 68th player coached by Ferentz at the University of Iowa to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Fant is the 11th Ferentz-coached tight end to be drafted. He joins Hockenson, George Kittle (2017), C.J. Fiedorowicz (2014), Tony Moeaki (2010), Brandon Myers (2009), Scott Chandler (2007), Tony Jackson (2005), Erik Jensen (2004), Clark (2003), and Austin Wheatley (2000).