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Why Puka Nacua Is A Day 3 Prospect In This Week’s NFL Draft

Apr 25, 2023, 11:58 AM | Updated: 2:12 pm

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Courtesy of BYU Photo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the NFL Draft just days away, fans are looking forward to seeing who their team will select to be their future star in the early rounds.

But if you follow the draft, you know that the real value is found in the later rounds. Sure, first-round picks are likely to be very good NFL players. But we all love the “diamond in the rough”, who blows expectations out of the water and becomes a legit starter for their franchise.

There will be many local players who will hear their names called this week, and most of them will be waiting until Day 3 of the draft. Former BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua has as good a chance to not only hear his name, but find a landing spot that will have him find success at the next level.

Why Is Puka Nacua A Day 3 Prospect?

Puka Nacua was a highly sought-after recruit coming out of Orem High School, setting state records before heading to Washington for the first two years of his college career. After transferring back home to BYU, Nacua led BYU in receiving yards the past two seasons.

He amassed 107 receptions, 1749 yards and 14 touchdowns over four years in college, most of that coming with BYU. He led the team in receiving yards the last two seasons. Nacua also showed an ability to work in the run game, rushing for 200 yards and five touchdowns for the Cougars in 2022. He declared for the NFL draft back in December and participated in both the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

He’s got good size (6-1, 200 lbs), but has missed games every season of his career due to injury. His 4.56 40-yard dash at BYU’s Pro Day last month was a good number, but not the type of speed to wow NFL teams. Without top-end speed, elite size/length, or All-American production, Puka Nacua just simply isn’t going to be considered a top-tier prospect. But that doesn’t mean he has no value at the next level. On Day 3 of the NFL Draft, someone is going to be VERY happy they got him.

Puka Nacua Has A Skillset NFL Teams Want

When NFL franchises take a wide receiver in the late rounds of the draft, they’re looking for guys who can fill a specific role on their team. Whether it’s on special teams, or within their offense, you need to have discernible skills that teams can use at the next level. Puka Nacua is a Day 3 prospect who can do just that.

Nacua is a tough, smart wide receiver who makes big catches and showed an ability to add in the run game. He’s also a willing and skilled blocker on the outside, an extremely valuable skill for NFL evaluators. Nacua doesn’t wow with his size or speed, but he’s got more than enough juice to work with. Plus, he’s got great feet and body control, showing a natural feel for the position and an ability to find the ball. Puka Nacua is 173rd on the consensus big board and WR23.

Even though he may have to wait until the 5th, 6th or 7th round, Nacua will find a roster spot because he can play special teams, coaches will love his work ethic and demeanor, and he will do the dirty work if asked. On Day 3 of the NFL Draft, that’s exactly what NFL teams are looking for. Teams want players who will push veterans for their roster spots or on the depth chart.

Best NFL Team Fit For Puka Nacua

Miami Dolphins (6th round, 197th pick)

Miami is looking to build upon a solid debut for Mike McDaniel and this new Dolphins squad. Adding effective players to surround Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle is a must. Puka Nacua is the perfect addition to this roster, as a guy who can block in the quick passing game and also provide another reliable target, when needed, for Tua Tagovailoa.

The Shanahan coaching tree values these types of players (just look at how the Los Angeles Rams utilize Ben Skowronek) and Miami could fill that hole with a really solid prospect in Nacua. Speaking of the Shanahan coaching tree, among the teams that would also make logical fits would be the 49ers, Rams, Browns & Texans.

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Why Puka Nacua Is A Day 3 Prospect In This Week’s NFL Draft