INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta missed his mark in the 40-yard dash on Saturday morning.
Nauta is the second Bulldogs’ underclassman at the NFL combine to time out among the slowest at his position.
Nauta’s best 40 was 4.91 seconds according to NFL.com’s preliminary reports. It was well off his goal of running a time in the 4.60 to 4.70 range. Nauta’s time ranked 17th of the 19 tight ends at the combine.
On Friday, departing UGA captain Elijah Holyfield ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash, which ranked 22nd of the 23 running backs at the combine.
Straight line speed certainly isn’t everything, but it is a metric NFL teams look for at skill positions, as the “home run play” ability factors heavily.
The 40-yard dash benchmark time for tight ends is 4.85, according to NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.
While Nauta’s time isn’t that far off that target, it’s a bit more concerning for him than other tight ends who ran at the NFL combine because of his size, 6-foot-3, 244-pound frame.
Nauta is more of a pass catching tight end, commonly referred to as the “F,” whereas the tight ends who most often block are referred to as the “Y.”
Nauta made the case on Friday that he has the ability to handle either of the roles tight ends commonly are asked to play in the collegiate and professional levels.
“I’m a guy that can do it all,” Nauta said at the podium interview on Friday at the Indiana Convention Center. “I’ve lined up in-line, in an H-Back role, split out wide, (and) I caught a lot of passes and blocked as well. A balanced tight end, I guess you could say.”
Nauta reeled in 30 of the 31 passes thrown his way last season, the highest catch ratio on the Georgia football team.
But there were a couple of moments in Nauta’s blocking and pass protecting in 2018 that he’d like to have back.
It’s likely the NFL advisory board was considering those when it advised Nauta to return for his senior season.
Nauta was confident on Friday that his NFL combine performance and team interviews would increase his value in the upcoming draft.
Nauta performed 19 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press on Friday, which ranked seventh among the tight ends who performed the lift at the NFL combine.
West Virginia’s Trevon Wesco set the bar in the bench with 24 reps, while Missouri’s Kendall Blanton and LSU’s Foster Moreau led SEC tight ends with 22 repetitions.
Iowa’s Noah Fant, at 6-4, 249, ran the fasted 40-yard time among the tight ends, a 4.50.
Alabama’s Irv Smith, 6-2, 242, was the fastest of the SEC tight ends at 4.63.
The good news for Nauta and the nine other Georgia football players at the NFL combine is that they will have another opportunity to run in front of NFL teams at the school’s pro day, on March 20.
Georgia football, 2019 NFL combine