CLOSE

T.J. Hockenson reacts to being picked by the Lions, and explains why he wore Lion King socks to the draft in Nashville, Tenn. on April 25, 2019. Chris Thomas, Detroit Free Press

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Catching his breath between interviews, new Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson got a tap on the shoulder to point his attention to a television screen.

“Oh! There we go,” said Hockenson, pumping his fist. 

College teammate and position-mate Noah Fant had just been drafted by the Denver Broncos.

And after only one night, Iowa’s 2019 draft is already one for the history books. Multiple tight ends being drafted in the first round is a rarity. Even more so if those tight ends are from the same school.

This year’s NFL draft was only the second since 2006 in which more than one tight end was selected in the first round, and Iowa’s tandem of Hockenson and Fant is believed to be the lone instance of tight ends from the same team each becoming first-rounders together.

After Hockenson went No. 8 to the Lions, the Broncos took Fant at No. 20.

“It’s a big prideful thing,” Fant said. “Obviously, it’s never happened before. Two guys from the same team, same position going in the first round is something that’s very special. … There’s different kinds of tight ends in our draft, and it depends on what the team wanted. Detroit got a great tight end and what fits their system, and the Broncos went with me, which I’m very happy about and I feel like I fit very well in.”

Fant said he was “pretty nervous” entering Thursday night, but that had more to do with where he might go instead of when he might be selected.

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

“I wanted to go to a team that fit me and what I do,” Fant said. "Denver was a perfect fit for me. I went on a visit there, and I love their coaches. I love their offensive scheme. I love the players that they have on the team. They’ve got great pieces. I’m definitely very excited.”

Fant said he loved Denver and the idea of heading to what “is going to be a great place to live.”

Once there, Fant will join former linebacker Josey Jewell and long snapper Casey Kreiter, each former Iowa players.

Then there is his former teammate Hockenson, with whom he’ll continue to share a unique piece of history — and comparisons that will follow them into the NFL.

“Both of us are up for verdict,” Fant said. “We haven’t played a down in the NFL yet. We’ll see how it goes. It’s always going to be a competition.

“Obviously, I’m going to say I’m going to do better.”

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE