One of the top tight ends available in the 2019 NFL Draft reportedly plans to visit Gillette Stadium as part of his pre-draft tour.
Iowa’s Noah Fant is scheduled to visit the New England Patriots on Thursday, according to multiple reports. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports was the first to report Fant’s visit, with NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero later adding that wide receivers A.J. Brown of Ole Miss and Deebo Samuel of South Carolina will be visiting Thursday, as well.
Fant is widely considered the second-best tight end in this year’s draft class behind former Hawkeyes teammate T.J. Hockenson, with both expected to hear their names called in the first round later this month.
Though not as complete a player as Hockenson, Fant is an incredible athlete and top-tier receiving threat, catching 18 touchdown passes over his final two collegiate seasons.
The 6-foot-4, 249-pound Fant put on arguably the most impressive all-around performance of any prospect at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, posting the best results among tight ends in the 40-yard dash (4.50 seconds), three-cone drill (6.81), broad jump (127 inches) and vertical jump (39.5 inches). He also ranked third in the short shuttle (4.22 seconds) and sixth in bench press (20 reps).
The Patriots entered the week with a dire need for tight end help after losing star Rob Gronkowski to retirement. The addition of veteran Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Wednesday helped matters, but given Seferian-Jenkins’ significant injury history — he has played fewer than 10 games in four of his five NFL seasons — there’s a strong likelihood the team will look to add another tight end through the draft.
Landing either Fant or Hockenson — the most Gronk-esque tight end in this year’s class — likely would require a trade up for a higher selection. The Patriots currently own 12 picks but aren’t scheduled to make their first until No. 32 overall, by which point both Iowa tight ends are expected to be gone.
If the Patriots are targeting either of these players, they could look to swing a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, who own the 21st pick and reportedly are looking to move down.