Draft 2023 – Pick #8: Puka Nacua, WR, BYU

Player Bio
Nacua was the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year and the state’s Mr. Football as a senior at Orem High School (103-2,336, 26 TDs receiving — all state records). He signed with Washington for 2019. He played in eight games with three starts as a true freshman (7-168-24.0, two TDs) but missed the end of the year with a broken foot. After playing in three games as a reserve for the Huskies in 2020 (9-151-16.8, one TD), Nacua returned to Provo to play for BYU. He led the Cougars with 43 receptions for 805 receiving yards (18.7) and tied for the team lead with six receiving TDs in 2021, starting seven of 12 games played. Nacua led BYU in receiving again in 2022 (48-625-13.0, five TDs in nine games, seven starts) and was a threat as a rusher (25-209-8.4, five TDs) despite missing time with lingering injuries. Puka is the younger brother of former BYU players Isaiah, Samson and Kai Nacua. — by Chad Reuter

By Lance Zierlein NFL Analyst
Draft Projection Rounds 6-7

Nacua is an athletic wideout lacking the twitch or speed to attack NFL man coverage at a successful rate. However, the ball skills and competitive nature he brings to the field give him a fighting chance to make a roster. He might need to be used as a possession receiver operating from the slot, where his ball-winning and size can work in his favor. He’s sneaky talented with the ball in his hands, so jet-sweep work in the pros could be an option. He has a shot to be picked on Day 3. There are make-it elements in the way he plays the game.

  • Routes offer leverage and crisp angles on the move.
  • Nice job of gaining vertical stack on cornerbacks.
  • Basketball background on display when making contested catches.
  • Gains late catch space with physicality and hand fighting.
  • Battered defenses as jet-sweep option.
  • Tough and slippery with the ball in his hands.
  • Will struggle to elude NFL press coverage.
  • Lacks instant acceleration to separate.
  • Upright route running makes him easy to redirect.
  • Does not have the long speed to keep corners from squatting.
  • Occasional issues with focus on downfield targets.

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