Puka Nacua NFL Draft Scouting Report
WR, BYU Cougars
BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua is a tone-setter on the perimeter and offers tremendous contested-catch ability along with surprising run-after-catch production and a high ceiling as an NFL starter on the perimeter with continued development.
Originally a 4-star recruit, Nacua committed to the Washington Huskies program and served as a marginal contributor there for two seasons before transferring to BYU. Nacua is one of several brothers to pass through the college football ranks in recent years—his brother Kai is a safety for the Jets and his brother Samson is a wide receiver who previously spent time on the Indianapolis Colts. Both also played at BYU. Nacua played at Orem High School in Utah and led the team to consecutive state titles as a star wide receiver before committing to Washington, where he logged 16 receptions for 319 yards and three touchdowns as a true freshman and true sophomore. He joined up with Samson at BYU (who previously played at Utah) beginning in 2021.
Nacua is a well-built perimeter wide receiver with the ball skills and physicality to win down the field with consistency. Nacua has a high level of bounce to his frame as well and went vertical to attack several targets above the rim throughout the course of his film study. It is easy to be impressed with how he pairs his vertical receiving skill set with complementary pieces of the position as well—he is super physical both as a short target with YAC opportunities and as a blocker on the boundary. That physicality pops up at the catch point as well. He’s firm with his hand fighting and offers post-up ability against defensive backs. When paired with tremendous sideline awareness, he can be the receiver his quarterback throws timing targets to and trust Nacua will be where he needs to be to complete the catch.
The Cougars found opportunities to manufacture touches for him on jet motions as well—he totaled an additional 350+ rushing yards on such touches at BYU. The intangibles are through the roof. He blocks his ass off, showing urgency and strong hand punch to dislodge and reset repeatedly to gain ground on the outside and soften edges. Nacua is a relentless player. His effort never wanes despite selective targets in stretches of play. The floor for Nacua as a player is a special teams demon with his size and physicality, but I think there’s a skill set here to be fully fleshed out that would allow him to star as a receiver too.
Nacua has a ton of likability but there’s still room for growth, most specifically as a route-runner. I do think Nacua is someone who has the movement skills to run most routes, but he is more linearly explosive and physically competitive than he is agile—the depths of which those limitations lie are difficult to gauge as is when you watch him run routes. Separation is most prominent versus free access or on vertical routes. A quiet showing against Notre Dame was significant because of how they crowded him at the line of scrimmage. Coming into the year, we hadn’t seen much of Nakua against press coverage but the Irish played him tight early and he finished the game without a reception.
Expectations for Nacua should be that of an immediate role player on an NFL roster. Wide-receiver-hungry teams should be able to find reps for him quickly on offense but all 32 teams would welcome his physicality and abilities. This player has the feel of a future NFL starter, although the timeline will be predicated on the offense he lands in and how strong the fit is for his immediate strengths and what he’s being asked to do.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Insane competitive toughness
- Very good linear athleticism
- Top-shelf body control and ball skills
- A+ football character
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Limited separation skills
- Needs development in release package at the line of scrimmage
- Not a hard-angle route-runner
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 6′ 2”
Weight: 201 lbs
Arm Length: 31 1/2”
Hand Size: 9 1/2”
Athletic Testing (TBD):
40-yard Dash: TBD
Vertical Jump: TBD
Broad Jump: TBD
Bench Reps: TBD
Ideal Role: X receiver
Scheme Fit: Vertical passing offense with volume of MOF targets
Prospect Comparison: Alec Pierce (2022 NFL Draft)
TDN Consensus Grade: 78.00/100 (Third-Round Value)
- Crabbs Grade: 78.00/100
Written By: Kyle Crabbs
Exposures: Utah (2021), Baylor (2021), Arkansas (2022), Notre Dame (2022), Boise State (2022)
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