Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines a difficult target for Iowa tight end and 2019 NFL Draft prospect Noah Fant and pinpoints a difference between a top prospect and a top NFL starter.
Whether it’s the data or the details on the field, the differences between a good and great player often seem minuscule. However, the outcome from a great player’s execution — or even a good player making a great play — can generate an enormous difference on the field.
Whether it’s a guard taking that full step forward into a blocking assignment to generate depth and leverage, a runner pointing the toe so his hips open and his cut is 15-25 degrees sharper, or a quarterback getting the midline of his back foot aligned with the target after sliding from interior pressure, one minuscule detail executed at the highest level by a single player can create a ripple effect for an entire play, drive, and game.
Study enough football and these tiny details begin to look like canyon-sized gaps. While the danger of examining these details is a loss of perspective of what’s important overall, it’s equally foolish to use that pitfall as a rationalization to ignore them entirely.
You can’t become a more astute fan or analyst without getting into the details. You’ll never attain a balanced perspective until you’ve been bogged down by the minutiae and learned to extricate yourself.
Noah Fant is a prospect where the details matter. One of the hundreds of college players standing at “the good side” of this canyon hoping to crossover to greatness, Fant is a marquee name among 2019’s NFL Draft prospects who looks the part to the casual observer.
During his final two seasons at Iowa, he earned 69 catches, 1,013 yards, and 18 touchdowns — including receptions of 65 and 68 yards. With George Kittle tearing up the NFL, the obvious framing for any Fant story is to superficially juxtapose Fant’s game with Kittle’s and tease readers with the possibility that Fant is the next big-play Iowa tight end to make Sundays his showcase.
There’s no question that Fant is has the physical skills of a starting move tight end in the NFL. What remains to be seen is whether Fant has the technique and grit to elevate his game to match the sky-high expectations placed on him.
This play below is an example of where his game is lacking. It’s a tiny detail but these tiny details are why he often fights the ball more than the casual observer notices.
Although the play above highlights the smallest differences between good and great technique, it’s the players who perform these minuscule details with the greatest consistency that traverse this microscopic canyon between NFL prospect and upper-echelon NFL starter.
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