The Detroit Lions doubled down on tight ends in this year’s draft after taking Georgia prospect Isaac Nauta in the seventh round. Nauta’s production in college was modest and his athletic profile leaves much to be desired, but there is certainly some reason for intrigue with this pick.
Here are five things you need to know about seventh-round pick Isaac Nauta.
He’s incredibly efficient when he gets the ball
In his best season at Georgia, Nauta only pulled in 30 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns. However, that lack of production was more based on lack of opportunities. When given a shot, Nauta took full advantage.
Lions Wire has this insane breakdown:
He had an 86-percent completion percentage (2nd best in tight end class), average 12.3-yards per target (2nd), average 2-yards per route run (7th), a 3.2-percent drop rate (3rd best) and a 76.3 run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (2nd).
Yes, he knows Matthew Stafford
As a Georgia alum—or “Dawg” as Nauta put it—the Lions’ franchise quarterback crossed paths with the rookie tight end several times on campus.
“Me and Matt know each other,” Nauta said on his post-draft teleconference. “I’ve seen him on the campus in Athens. So we’ve had time to chat it up a little bit. I don’t know him too crazy well, but we do know each other.”
He’s dealt with a ton of coaching turnover at Georgia
Nauta was recruited by then head coach Mark Richt, but Georgia fired Richt before Nauta arrived in 2016. While he was playing, he also had to deal with two different tight end coaches throughout his Georgia career. Shane Beamer coached him up for this first two years, before Georgia replaced him with Jim Chaney, who promptly left after this past season to become Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.
All those moves had to be disorienting for the young tight end.
“I thought the tight ends had a lot better year and did some good stuff. There was nothing that would’ve ever indicated to me he’d be leaving,” Nauta said of Chaney’s departure back in January. “The last time I talked to him was to tell him I was leaving and to thank him for everything he’s done.”
He was a five-star recruit out of high school
Michigan fans probably don’t need a reminder, but Isaac Nauta was one of the most high-touted prospects coming out of high school. Not only was he a five-start recruit and best TE prospect according to ESPN, but he was the second highest-ranked overall prospect to come out of Florida that year. Rivals had him as the 18th best prospect nationally, while Scout had him 30th.
The University of Michigan was one of three teams Nauta had narrowed down his choice to, but ultimately he chose Georgia over Michigan and Alabama.