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Why Noah Fant is primed to breakout and help DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett

For the past three years, it's been the DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett show. The pair have combined for 6,456 receiving yards during this period.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video featuring an exclusive KING 5 interview with Seahawks tight end Noah Fant originally aired July 21. This story is part of KING 5's Seahawks season preview series.

As we've discussed previously, the Seattle Seahawks are an outlier in the National Football League (NFL).

Seattle has consolidated its entire passing offense to, essentially, two players. 

For the past three seasons, it's been the DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett show. 

Metcalf and Lockett have combined for 6,456 receiving yards in three seasons, accounting for 53% of the Seahawks' overall passing yards during this time

The other 26 Seahawks -- yes, I counted -- to catch at least one pass have totaled 5,714 receiving yards in three seasons, comparatively. 

KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: All of our stories breaking down the 2022 Seahawks

It's atypical for an elite NFL offense to not feature at least three pass catchers. A cursory look around the league for other elite offenses finds at least three, sometimes four, suitable receiving options.

The Seahawks, instead, have subsisted on a revolving door of third receiving options. All have made scant impacts on the team's overall bottom line.

2021: Gerald Everett, 48 catches, 63 targets, 478 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns (TDs)
2020: David Moore, 35 catches, 47 targets, 417 receiving yards, 6 TDs
2019: Jacob Hollister, 41 catches, 59 targets, 349 receiving yards, 3 TDs
2018: David Moore, 26 catches, 53 targets, 445 receiving yards, 5 TDs
Average third Seahawks receiver: 38 catches, 56 targets, 422 yards, 4.5 TDs

The last No. 3 Seahawks receiver to record over 500 receiving yards in a season was Lockett himself in 2017, the year before he made a big leap as a pass catcher.

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While it's certainly possible to build a good NFL offense with a heavily consolidated passing tree, popular criticism of the Seahawks' offense has been the inability to find a reliable third option to take the pressure off Metcalf and Lockett. At this point, NFL defenses know they can key in on the pair because the other receivers lack the ability to test defenders vertically or horizontally.

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It's left the Seahawks offense limited to fewer options on any given play. You can only throw deep passes to Metcalf and Lockett for so long before it becomes predictable. 

Last season, Everett was the Seahawks' best (relatively speaking!) third pass catcher in over five years. He'd have been a fourth or fifth receiving option on other elite offenses.

Heading into the 2022 season, the Seahawks have a few possible options to replace Everett's role and, hopefully, do more to complement Metcalf and Lockett.

Noah Fant

If all things go right this season, Fant should be the guy who vaults into the next tier of pass catchers behind Metcalf and Lockett.

Fant, a former first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has already had three consecutive seasons with better receiving totals than the Seahawks are accustomed to for their third option. 

Fant, to put it quite simply, is a freak of nature. He's 6-foot-4 and weighs 249 pounds but he is in the 98th percentile in the 40-yard dash, 97th percentile in speed score, 97th in burst score, 98th in agility score and 99th percentile in catch radius, according to Player Profiler, a website that tracks individual players metrics and compares them to their peers. In other words: Fant is better than at least 97% of NFL players in these respective categories.

Player Profiler determines Fant's best player comparison is the San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle, another phenom at tight end that Seahawks fans probably know pretty well.  

In 2021, Fant earned 90 targets and 24.6% of Denver's passes in the red zone according to Player Profiler. The 24-year-old played on nearly 87% of all snaps for the Broncos and even ran in the slot 15% of the time.

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He'll give the Seahawks versatility when constructing plays, whether it be in run-heavy concepts or if they want to spread the defense with passing concepts.

Fant is familiar with quarterback Drew Lock, who could earn the starting job if he beats Geno Smith in the preseason. 

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Neither quarterback is the deep thrower that Russell Wilson was, so it's a fair assumption that those patented footballs along the sideline turn into shorter passes in the middle of the field. That also helps Fant. 

Entering his fourth NFL season, everything is in place for Fant to have a career year. 

Credit: Jimmy Bernhard, KING 5
Seahawks wide receiver Dee Eskridge (1) runs during training camp on July 27, 2022.

D'Wayne Eskridge

Eskridge had a very limited role in his rookie season, totaling 20 targets and 10 receptions for just 64 yards.

Young wide receivers typically have a longer transition time to the NFL, unless they are complete phenom like Metcalf. 

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Eskridge is on the shorter side of receivers, but he's a quick and shifty receiver -- in the 79th percentile in the 40-yard dash -- and has the draft pedigree as a second-round pick to give him several chances to make a real impact for the team. 

Will Dissly

Dissly was well on his way to a breakout season in 2019 when he tore his Achilles. As a 23-year-old, Dissly was on pace for 700 receiving yards before his season was cut short. 

He has not been the same since the debilitating injury, though he has been able to play 31 of 33 possible games for the Seahawks.

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His receiving totals have plummeted to under 16 receiving yards per game, a huge dropoff from his pre-Achilles days. 

Still, he's just 26 years old and could find himself with a bigger role if Fant struggles.

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