Isaac Nauta (6’4”, 240), Tight End, Georgia
14.3 Aggregate Score (3 Star Prospect)
The current tight end landscape in the NFL is bleak at best and horrifying if being honest. This tight class is getting a lot of hype because of its headliners: Fant, Hockenson, and Smith. Nauta may not be in the first tier, but he’s the next man up and he needs to be on your radar.
Nauta was a high school football and basketball standout at the famed IMG Academy. He was a 5-star recruit, an overall top 10 recruit in all major rankings, and the top tight end in his recruiting class. Nauta received major offers from around the country, including Alabama and Michigan, but chose to be a part of the momentum Georgia has been building over the last couple years.
Nauta made an impact early in Athens. He caught 29 receptions for 361 yards (12.4 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns in his freshmen year with the Bulldogs. Nauta also contributed to a run-heavy offense his junior, and final year, with 30 receptions for 430 yards (14.3 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns.
Nauta’s career numbers may not be overwhelming, but Jim Cheney’s scheme for Georgia is run heavy and his offense is loaded with NFL talent. Still, he pulled in 68 receptions for 905 yards (13.3 yards/reception) and 8 touchdowns over his 3-year career. His production in limited opportunity, combined with his high recruiting pedigree makes him an intriguing draft prospect.
Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score 4 (Personal Score: 4)
It becomes clear quickly (pun intended) when watching Nauta’s tape that he has great speed. He gets to the second level quickly and outruns linebackers. He looks more like a big wide receiver than a tight end, and I mean that in the best way.
Route Running: Aggregate Score 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)
Nauta doesn’t have a developed route tree, but he does well when he breaks off the line of scrimmage. He is a good seam route runner, works the slant nicely, can find space underneath with a drag route, and can break off an out route.
Nauta lines up next to the tackle in tight formations but it also useful going out wide in a spread offense. He creates space off the line of scrimmage and uses his hands nicely to swipe off defenders with ease. Nauta’s route running is exciting and highlights his athleticism.
Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 1)
Nauta can hold a block nicely on one play, and then completely whiff on the next. He is more efficient in pass blocking but doesn’t engage with defenders the way you’d like to see from a body of his size. He bounces off defenders when trying to run block and was completely overwhelmed by Alabama defenders in 2018.
Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)
Nauta uses his hands well to create space, both on the line of scrimmage and when creating space against defensive backs. His hands look soft in space and he pulls in easy balls. Nauta, however, drops balls often when in contested situations. He needs to consistently position his body for success; he has a large frame and if coached up he could be seriously effective.
Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)
Nauta is mobile and can be effective at all levels of the field. Georgia lined him up in various formations and can be useful in multiple packages, making him an attractive choice for NFL teams come April. Once he has the ball in his hands, he can make guys miss in space, making him a YAC threat.
Conclusion: 3rd Round Value
Nauta won’t go early in your fantasy football drafts: he has inconsistent hands, needs to develop as a blocker, and could stand to add weight to his frame. Still, Nauta can be a huge value. He has great high school and college pedigree and is seriously athletic and quick. His speed and athleticism is not only a refreshing thing to see at the tight end position, but they are also critical elements of fantasy football success.
Don’t jump on Nauta early, his floor is much lower than Fant, Hockenson, or Smith. Still, his ceiling is nearly as high and worth a mid to late round pick.