Noah Fant nearly became a Seahawk three years ago during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
As general manager John Schneider explained last month after the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos for a package that included multiple draft picks as well as Fant, quarterback Drew Lock and defensive end Shelby Harris, the Seahawks were ready to draft Fant three years ago with the 21st overall pick, and even had his name written down on the card they would need to turn in to make the pick official, but instead the Broncos took Fant at No. 20, leading to the Seahawks trading back.
"In the green room when I was in Nashville, me and my agent were kind of talking about that a little bit, thinking that Seattle was a possibility," Fant said. "Obviously, John confirmed that in saying that they were going to pick me, but I ended up here at the right time. It would've been nice to be drafted either place, but I'm in the right place at the right time and excited to be here, especially with a team and a GM that wants me here. Excited to compete and get to work."
Fant, who has started 41 of 47 games played in his first three seasons, admitted he was "a little shocked" to find out he had been traded, but he sees in Seattle a good opportunity to build off of the success he has already had and to take his game to even higher levels.
"I'm happy to be in a spot where the front office and the coaches want me here, and it feels good to be wanted," he said. "I'm just looking forward to competing and getting in with this team and making an impact right away. It feels good to be here."
Fant's first three seasons have hardly been disappointing, with him contributing 170 catches, 1,905 yards and 10 touchdowns, including 130 catches and 1,343 yards the last two seasons. But as good as he has been so far, Fant still sees a chance in Seattle to do even more than he has so far in his career.
"To be honest with you, I haven't been really happy from my perspective with my production the last two years," he said. "Granted, it's been decent production compared to other tight ends in the NFL, but I definitely am striving for more and better. Essentially the biggest (place) I've grown in my game is just kind of understanding defenses and understanding where I can slide into certain zones and how to run my routes and get different coverage, different press, different ways the defense is playing me and just kind of overall knowledge gaining of the game. Goals for year four is to take that leap, right? I mean, I'm kind of stuck at that high 600 ceiling and I got to break through that. I think I have every opportunity to do that in Seattle, and I'm excited to get to work to do that."
Coming out of Iowa in 2019, Fant was known for his speed and the ability to stretch a defense, and he has been able to do that in the NFL, but coming to Seattle where the running game will also be important, Fant is also focused on making himself a more complete tight end.
"This offseason, I've been watching a lot of run tape," he said. "I feel like that's been kind of one of the things that I've been decent at, but could be a lot better at. If I could take that step to be a dominant run blocker, then I don't know what (bad thing) could be said if I could do that in that area of the game. So that's what I've been focusing on a lot. I know (Will) Dissly's a really good run blocker. I've talked to him a little bit over the last couple days. Haven't really dived into the X's and O's yet, but hoping that he could be a big help for me also to get where I want to be in that area."
Of course, Fant isn't the only player coming to Seattle in the Wilson trade who is looking to elevate his game with his new team. Quarterback Drew Lock arrived in Denver as a potential quarterback of the future, a second-round pick selected 22 picks after Fant, and while he took over the starting job late in his rookie season and played well, Lock struggled at times over the next two seasons and lost his starting job in 2021. But for all the ups and downs experienced by Lock so far, Fant sees a quarterback who could thrive in Seattle if given the chance.
"Drew's biggest attribute is his arm," Fant said. "I think he's made some insane throws the times that we've played together. He has all the talent in the world. He can run with the ball. He can do it all. He's been through some things with previous things in Denver and he's been working through that. I think he has all the opportunity and all the talent in the world to get it done and be that franchise guy. I know he's excited to get in and get to work and meet all the guys. I think it'll be a really good opportunity for him."
Check out photos of Seahawks tight end Noah Fant from his college days in Iowa and first three seasons in the NFL with the Broncos.