Georgia junior tight end Isaac Nauta announced this afternoon via social media that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
Nauta, who came to Athens as a consensus five star recruit out of Buford/IMG Academy was a contributor even as a freshman, but only in 2018 really put up the numbers expected from a recruit with his pedigree. How much of that was a result of Jim Chaney’s playcalling and how much was owing to the presence of other playmakers like Javon Wims, Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman, and JJ Holloman will be a subject of debate among Bulldog fans for some time.
Nauta leaves a tight end depth chart that is uncharacteristically worrisome for a school that once proudly declared itself “Tight End U.” Jackson Harris is graduating, so Nauta’s decision leaves Charlie Woerner as the only certain returner with even a single reception. Rising sophomore Luke Ford, who played in nine games during 2018 and had a single reception, has been very open about considering a transfer to be closer to his home in Illinois.
A Ford transfer would leave Woerner, redshirt freshman John Fitzpatrick, and true freshman Ryland Goede as Georgia’s only scholarship tight ends. As much as I’ve been pleased with Kirby Smart’s scholarship allocation on the whole, this is looking like a worrisome unit for 2019.
That’s especially so if draft-eligible receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman exit the Classic City as well. That would mean Georgia losing four of its top five 2018 receivers. Number six was tailback D’Andre Swift. Number seven was Woerner.
Nauta becomes the tenth tight end to declare early for the Draft, along with several highly-touted seniors. Noah Fant of Iowa appears to be the leader in that group and to be honest I’m not seeing a lot of draft projections for Nauta on the first day, or even in the top seven tight ends chosen. I suspect he’s got a lot of work to do to convince scouts. Isaac’s been a DGD, and I hope it works out for him. Until later...