NAME: Isaac Nauta
POSITION: Tight End
JERSEY: No. 18
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
WT: 246 lbs
Route-Running – Has flashed the ability to sell fakes in his route breaks, but not a consistently dynamic route runner. Sits down against man coverage when he should run to space. Needs to do a better job of exploding out of breaks and detaching against man coverage down the field. Should never get hung up on contact at his size, but does. Needs to be more aware of jams.
Ball Skills – Strong hands to snag the ball outside his frame. Has flashed high-point ability and clearly has the radius to adjust to off-target throws. Rarely drops the football. Unafraid to extend for the ball over the middle of the field. Hasn’t received a ton of high degree of difficulty catches, but has impressed in the opportunities he’s gotten. Little tight in the hips and hops are a question mark.
Speed – Can open up vertically due to long speed. Not super explosive, but builds up to field-stretching speed that can run away from linebackers. I’d guess high 4.6s, low 4.7s. Nothing special, but good for his position.
Run Blocking – Ultra-physical. Fires off the ball with hands inside and bench presses defensive ends off his frame. Has the length, strength and tenacity to handle big-time assignments in the run game. Understands body positioning to seal off lanes, brings his feet underneath him as a blocker. Would benefit from gripping and driving through contact, too often opts for multiple punches when he could finish better by latching on initial contact. In space, stays under control when approaching his target, usually getting enough of his opponent to make his block count. Good blocker on the move. Shows good technique across the board, but pad level could be an issue. If he plays with better bend and wins leverage early, Nauta will be an elite blocker in the NFL.
Contested Catch – Uses his frame well to box out defenders coming over his back to contest underneath throws. Strong at the catch point, concentration and strength in traffic is a plus. Not sure he is elite enough in the air to elevate and pluck over contact consistently due to so few opportunities to do so in college.
YAC – Not creative or elusive in the open field, but gets vertical quickly and will run through contact for extra yards. Not looking to go out of bounds, unless he goes through your face first. Will absorb hits and keep trucking. Better give him a good shot to get him down.
Separation Quickness – The weakest area of his game. Nauta is a linear athlete with stiff hips and not much side-to-side wiggle. Lot of tight ends have been successful with these limitations, but it might make him an easier cover for defensive backs than the ideal mismatch tight end would be. Doesn’t explode out of breaks and needs to be more manipulative and sudden in his footwork to create throwing windows.
Pass Protection – When asked to pass protect, often handled edge pass rushers 1v1 with outstanding length and strength. Able to drop anchor and sit down against power. Good hand placement to ride out defenders. Chips strong coming off the line of scrimmage.
Competitive Toughness – Nasty temperament as a blocker. Gets after opponents and finishes through contact. Has a little bit of crazy to him. Terrific competitor. 5-star who was asked to do dirty work and he handled it like a pro on the field. Regarded as a leader on the team by his coaches.
Athleticism/Size – Good long speed, but the rest of his athletic profile might look pretty average. Curious to see his jumps. Size, length and build are outstanding, plug n’ play potential due to his pro-ready frame.
BEST TRAIT – Balls Skills/Blocking
WORST TRAIT – Separation Quickness
RED FLAGS – None
A former five-star recruit, Nauta started fast at Georgia, but the offense never evolved as it should have, which limited his impact as a receiver in the Bulldogs offense. Blessed with good speed and terrific hands, Nauta can make plays vertically and is a bull after the catch, but doesn’t have ideal separation ability as a route runner against sticky man coverage defenders.
Nevertheless, blockers like Nauta don’t come along at the position often, making him a high floor prospect with little downside as a mid-late day two pick. He’ll contribute as a rookie, the only question is how dynamic a receiving option Nauta can become over time.
Route Running –Hard not to like the awareness he brings when working through traffic to offer head fakes. Ultimately doesn’t have a lot of second level juice, however…meaning he isn’t going to run away from guys in vertical releases or when having to drive hard out of breaks.
Hands – Fairly reliable hands, does well to extend for the football and is attentive to pluck the nose of the ball. Drops can be drawn back to flipping eyes up-field too quickly. Soft hands handle hot passes with grace and ease.
Versatility – A true three down threat. Has been played flexed as well and operates effectively, so there’s no limitations as a hand in the dirt guy. His immediate NFL value will be as a blocker but ceiling is present for an effective all-around starting TE.
Contested Catch Ability – Does well to optimize his catch radius and both aggressively address the football with his hands and high point when needing to adjust to throws put away from defenders. Shows toughness to fight for positioning but also to stick in vs. pending contact.
Run After Catch Ability – Doesn’t show a lot of juice with the ball in his hands. His lack of burst negates a lot of his impact after the catch but he also doesn’t show a lot of creativity to establish poor angles or create yardage for himself, either.
Power At POA – Awesome. Love his base, his hands and how well he frames his blocks, even against EDGE defenders. His anchor is tremendous in pass protection. Like his foot activity to parlay initial momentum into a constant forward push.
Competitive Toughness – Is an absolute dog at the LOS. Love the tenacious approach that he provides. Equal opportunity ass kicker, will beat up LBs and DEs alike. Plays with great functional play strength and balance on his route releases.
Flexibility – Really, really smooth. He’s a natural mover and a lot of that stems from easy movements on his breaks, swimming around contact at the LOS on his route releases and how well he keeps his pads and hips down on both route stems and when squaring up and framing blocks.
Balance – Effortless blocker and does very well to keep his feet at a sustainable width, doesn’t narrow his base looking to compromise and create push up front. His cuts and pivots in space as a route runner are well balanced…just not dynamic.
Football Intelligence – Technically refined player, particularly closer to the LOS. HIs ability to make an impact as a receiver is predicated on more growth and savvy understanding of hos to mask his physical limitations with strength and contact.
BEST TRAIT – Versatility
WORST TRAIT – Explosiveness
BEST FILM – Alabama (2018)
WORST FILM – LSU (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Isaac Nauta should have a fairly straight forward transition to the NFL. Nauta is an ace blocker, his ability to dictate at the LOS is tremendous and will afford him ample looks early on in his NFL career. Nauta’s physical presence extends to the receiving game as well, where he shows the ability to bully and knock around defenders on his route stems. Nauta will need to be more deliberate with his physicality to create more separation on his breaks to be a big threat as a receiver, though.