Isaac Nauta Jersey

While NFL fans might be learning about Nauta for the first time, college football fans have long known about Nauta. The former Georgia tight end was a 5-star high school prospect in the 2016 recruiting cycle. He was ranked as the No. 14 overall player in the class, ahead of other 2019 NFL Draft hopefuls like Devin White and DK Metcalf.

Nauta was the No. 1 overall tight end prospect in the 2016 cycle. However, he will not be the first tight end taken in the draft class. That distinction goes to Iowa tight end TJ Hockenson, who the Detroit Lions took with the No. 8 overall pick.

Nauta committed to Georgia in January of 2016. For most of his Georgia recruitment, he was being pursued by Mark Richt. But Richt and Georgia parted ways in December of 2015, and the Bulldogs hired Kirby Smart to then be the coach of the Bulldogs.

Nauta also played for multiple tight end coaches during his time at Georgia. Shane Beamer coached Nauta for his first two seasons at Georgia. Jim Chaney took over for Beamer in the tight end room this past season, while also serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. Georgia hired a new tight ends coach this offseason, as Todd Hartley replaced Chaney.

Nauta took a big step back as a sophomore when he hauled in only 9 passes for 114 yards. Part of this is due to the fact that Georgia was a run-heavy team and using a freshman quarterback.

As a junior, Nauta hauled in 30 catches for 430 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nauta finished third on the team in receiving yards last season. Nauta made the decision to leave for the NFL following his junior season, forgoing his final year of eligibility.

Nauta did not test well athletically at the 2019 NFL Draft Combine. He ran a 4.91 40-yard dash, one of the worst for the tight end position this year. Nauta also had a below average showing in the 3-cone drill and vertical jump.

Nauta’s strengths come in his route running ability and his blocking prowess. Despite being undersized for the position, Nauta’s blocking has been consistently praised as a blocker. That will be a skill he brings with him to the NFL.

“I think it really started in my Buford days, we focused a lot in the fundamentals of blocking,” Nauta said of his blocking skills. “That’s where ay good blocker starts, you have to have the right technique and fundamentals, and you have to want to beat the guy across from you.

“It’s getting the right positioning, beating him to a spot and keeping him from winning his gap.”

Ty Johnson Jersey

Former Maryland teammates Byron Cowart and Ty Johnson, who saw the trajectories of their respective college football careers start and end going in different directions, will begin their NFL careers on nearly the same plane after being drafted Saturday.

Cowart, a defensive lineman who was the top-rated high school prospect in the country in Florida but did little in two years at Auburn before transferring to Maryland last season, was taken by the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the fifth round (No. 159 overall).

Johnson fought some injuries, including a calf injury that cost him the final two games of his senior season. He finished with 66 carries for 506 yards for a 7.7-yard average. As a sophomore, he had 110 carries for 1,004 yards and six touchdowns.

ohnson said he has been returning kicks since he was a kid and that it has always come naturally to him.

“Just being able to have that, those extra steps, like leading, running into the ball,” he said. “Having a few steps while catching the ball to get the wheels turning, you know, I love that. Just being able to have that whole open field, being able to see it.

“When you’re a running back, you know, you’re only five yards behind the line. But at kick returner, you can see the whole field before any of the blocks really happen, so I like that part of it, and it’s a good thing.”

Johnson wasn’t happy about the combine snub, but he was ready for redemption Saturday as he sat glued to the television waiting to hear his name called. He sat on a small rotating chair and never stepped away from the TV. Well, almost never.

“No, it wasn’t frustration,” he said. “It was more of like, ‘OK, my time’s coming. It’s just a matter of when.’ Anything can happen, really. It’s the draft.

Travis Fulgham Jersey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After breaking the NFL Draft barrier down last night, the Monarchs hear another one of their own called at the NFL Draft.

Old Dominion receiver Travis Fulgham was selected in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions.

Fulgham, who began his career at ODU as a walk-on, tallied 1,083 receiving yards in 2018, the second-best single season output by a Monarch in program history.

The Ashburn, Va. native finished with 2,044 career yards. He finished with 128 receptions and 18 touchdowns in his four-year career in Norfolk. Fulgham was the first offensive player in school history to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl along with teammate Oshane Ximines, as well as participate as teammates at the NFL Combine.

Friday night, the New York Giants selected Ximines in the third round, marking the first time an ODU football player heard his name called in the NFL Draft.

NORFOLK (WAVY) – Less than 24 hours after Oshane Ximines made history as the first Old Dominion player ever selected in the NFL Draft, his teammate hears his name.

Wide receiver Travis Fulgham was taken with the 184th overall pick (6th round) by the Detroit Lions, and is just the second Monarch ever to be selected in the draft.

Ximines, ODU’s all-time sacks leader, was taken with the 95th overall pick (third round) by the New York Giants on Friday night.

Fulgham blossed during his senior season, catching 63 passes for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns, as compared to nine touchdowns through his first three seaons.

Amani Oruwariye Jersey

At 6 feet 2 and 205 pounds, Oruwariye has the size and length the Lions wanted to complement Slay, a two-time Pro Bowler, in their secondary.

“It just allows me to be able to match up with bigger receivers that the teams bring,” Oruwariye said. “It allows me to use my body to my abilities and really dominate at the line of scrimmage and go up with receivers and make plays on the ball.”

A first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, Oruwariye led Penn State with 11 passes defensed and had three interceptions.

He’s much more fleet of foot than the last big cornerback the Lions drafted, Teez Tabor, and his presence could mean the end of Tabor’s tenure in Detroit.

Tabor, a second-round pick in 2017, ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash coming out of college and his lack of speed has hampered his development as a pro.

Oruwariye, with a similar frame, ran a 4.47-second 40 at the NFL combine.

The Lions have revamped their secondary this offseason, cutting 2/5 of last year’s starters in Glover Quin and Nevin Lawson and adding Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin in free agency and Oruwariye and third-round pick safety Will Harris in the draft.

Coleman and Slay project as the Lions’ starting cornerbacks next season, with Coleman moving inside and Melvin joining them on the field in nickel packages, and Tabor and Jamal Agnew are among those competing for backup spots.

Along with Slay, Oruwariye said he tries to model his game after Richard Sherman because of his size and Jalen Ramsey because of his physicality.

“All three of those guys are great corners in the league that I can definitely take something from and learn from,” Oruwariye said.

As for slipping to Round 5 after some projected him as a Day 2 pick, Oruwariye said he doesn’t have the time “to sit there and dwell on what didn’t happen and what should have happened.”

“I’m just going to make the other 31 teams that didn’t draft me pay when my opportunity comes and just go with my standards,” he said. “I’m going to work hard regardless of where I’m picked at. It doesn’t matter what day, when, where, I’m going to work hard. That’s my standard, so that’s not going to change.”

Austin Bryant Jersey


ALLEN PARK — The Detroit Lions wanted to get bigger in this draft. They wanted to get tougher in this draft.

And they got both in Clemson defensive lineman Austin Bryant, their fourth-round pick.

Get this: Bryant tore his pectoral muscle in a win against Louisville on the first Saturday in November. Tore it right off the bone, and only surgery would fix it. Instead, he played on.

He played with one pec the very next week, and the week after that. He didn’t miss a single game. He played in all 15 of them, actually, and was crowned defensive MVP of the national semifinals. Clemson went on to win the national championship.

“I thought about (having surgery right away), but at the end of the day, I knew what I came back to school to do,” Bryant said by phone after Detroit took him 117th overall. “And that was not only to get my degree, but play and win the national championship. That’s what I wanted to do. If I can walk, I was going to be out on that field with my teammates just because that’s how much I love those guys.

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew that I could’ve went out there and played, and I didn’t do so. I’m very glad I made the decision to play, even though it may have had its consequences (in the draft process). It’s well worth it, and I ended up in the right place.”

In an era when more players are skipping bowl games to preserve their NFL stock, Bryant’s team-first attitude stands out. So does his toughness. The week after he tore his pec off the bone, he racked up 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and a season-high six tackles in a blowout win against Boston College. They allowed seven points.

Bryant shredded Notre Dame’s talented offensive line for three tackles for loss and two sacks in a blowout win in the national semifinals, and was named the game’s defensive MVP. He added another three tackles — one for loss — in the win against Alabama in the national championship.

Will Harris Jersey

Ever since Will Harris was a young boy, he was enamored with football. Being the son of an NFL draft pick will usually do that.

Growing up, he wanted to be like his father, Will Harris, Sr., who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1993 draft as a wide receiver out of Mississippi State. Though his father’s NFL career never panned out, the younger Harris says he always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

When the Lions traded up to draft Will Harris in the third round Friday night, his dad was right there next to him in Atlanta. He told reporters on a conference call at the Lions facility in Allen Park his dad has been preaching patience throughout the draft process.

“Wherever you end up going, it’s just time to go to work from there,” Harris Jr. said. “It’s a huge blessing and this is the best day of my life. Detroit picked me up and I’m so glad to be a part of the organization and I can’t wait to go to work. He’s been preaching to me just staying patient and when your name’s called, it’s time to go to work.”

The elder Harris grew up playing wide receiver and his son wanted to do the same, but when BC came calling, it was time to make a difficult decision. After playing on both sides of the ball in high school, Harris ultimately decided to play the opposite side of the ball as his father, and it most certainly worked out.

Harris recorded 225 tackles, five interceptions and six fumble recoveries to boot during his college career and Harris Sr. was encouraging him all along the way.

“I switched over to the defensive side of the ball and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Harris Jr. said. “He played an integral part in my football career and in my life. That’s my father, that’s my guy.”

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said Harris, a three-year starter and team captain, is versatile, strong and fast. The Lions were particularly impressed with Harris at the Senior Bowl, where Quinn says Harris was “probably one of the better players.”

Detroit’s defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was an assistant coach at Boston College when Harris was there. Quinn said Pasqualoni vouched for Harris as a good leader with strong passion for the game. Quinn had visited Boston College practices a few times, as he knew several BC staff members from his time in New England, saying the Eagles had a “pretty good list of prospects this year.”

“There were lot of guys to talk through, including guys that were probably a little bit more, I’d say, ‘names.’ One guy went in the first round, Zach Allen went today. Really, the first guy that a lot of (Boston College staff members) mentioned to me was (Harris),” Quinn said. “Like, ‘This guy’s like heartbeat of our team.’ Not that those other guys were bad, they weren’t. They have a lot of good football players and a lot of good leaders.

“But this guy was voted captain on that team, on that defense. That spoke volumes to me.”

Harris Jr. says his dad was a coach, trainer and mentor for him growing up and to have him by his side when he got the call from Quinn and the Lions “meant the world” to him.

When asked whether he would tease his father over bragging rights about being drafted higher, he laughed and said absolutely not.

“I kid you not, the first thing he tells me when I get drafted, ‘Hey, I got the footballs in the trunk, we’re going back to work tomorrow.’ It’s crazy how it works out because I always wanted to be like him growing up and now he’s my biggest fan. Love that man to death.”

Jahlani Tavai Jersey

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he has no concerns about new linebacker Jahlani Tavai’s character despite a 2018 arrest.

“You guys read the article, you know what it was,” Quinn said after Round 3 of the NFL draft Friday. “I think a lot of people in this room would have stepped in and tried to do the right thing as well. So it was unfortunate. He made a mistake and we are totally fine with him character-wise, 1,000%.”

Tavai was arrested at a Honolulu nightclub last June after he was accused of assaulting a man who allegedly pushed a woman to the ground, according to Hawaii News Now.

Quinn said the Lions brought Tavai in for a pre-draft visit in part to question him about the incident.

“Everybody in the building kind of sat down with him,” Quinn said. “He told the same exact story that he told us at the combine, so it was very consistent from Point A to Point B and he made a mistake.”

Tavai, who was suspended for the first game of Hawaii’s season last year for what was termed a violation of team rules, declined to provide details about the incident when asked about it in a conference call Friday.

The Lions used the 11th pick of the second round, No. 43 overall, to take Tavai.

“I’m trying not to think about that,” Tavai said. “The past is the past and right now I’ve learned from my mistake and I’m trying to move on right now and just show the Lions that I’m ready to go and I’m not allowing anything off the field to ever affect me again from missing time or anything like that.”

Quinn admitted Tavai was “probably off the radar a tiny bit” as a prospect, but defended using a second-round pick on the linebacker by saying Tavai filled a big need, and that other teams picking after the Lions were zeroing in on drafting him.

“That’s a position we really wanted to address,” Quinn said. “Like I said, not giving you every detail of what our draft board looks like, but linebackers that play in this defense that are really very, very good natural fits, there’s only a couple every year. So you wait a year, you don’t get one, you might not get him next year, you might not get him the year after. So this guy was a guy that we had targeted early on, I’d say as early as October.”

Finding linebackers for the Lions defense can be especially difficult because of the size requirements and versatility they want at the position.

Tavai stands a shade under 6 feet 3 and weighs 250 pounds. He topped 100 tackles in both the 2016-17 seasons, but had his senior season cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery.

“We like thick-built linebackers,” Quinn said. “Really thick guys that can kind of take on blocks so that when they play on the edge they have enough playing strength and enough arm length to set the edge. Like, where (Devon) Kennard plays. He can go out there against good tight ends and hold the edge of the defense, which is crucially important. And then you see him play off the ball when you play him like (Jarrad Davis) or Christian (Jones), that’s the versatility.”

T.J. Hockenson Jersey

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WLNS) – With the 8th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, the Lions picked T.J. Hockenson.

T.J. Hockenson is a Tight End from Iowa. The 6-foot-5, 250 pound former Hawkeye, received the 2018 John Mackey Award as top tight end in the nation.

Hockenson is the second Hawkeye tight end ever taken in the first round, joining Dallas Clark, who was picked 24th by the Indianapolis Colts in 2003.

During Iowa’s 9-4 season in 2018, Hockenson caught 49 passes for six touchdowns and led the team with 760 receiving yards. The first team All-Big Ten performer was named Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year, and he was also recipient of the Ozzie Newsome Award from Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio, and multiple All-America teams, including first team by American Football Coaches Association and USA Today.

Iowa has had at least one player drafted in every NFL Draft since 1978. Hockenson is the 67th player coached by Kirk Ferentz at the University of Iowa to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Analysts say T.J. is most comparable to Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten.

The Lions are coming off a 6-10 season, fourth in the NFC Central Division. They were 25th of 32 NFL teams in passing yards with 3,599 in 16 games.

Next up, Detroit is scheduled for the 11th pick in the second round and the 25th pick from Philadelphia in the third round.

Although the Lions could have the 43rd and 88th pick, general manager Bob Quinn has been pretty open about saying he’s willing to listen to trade offers, and if the right one comes up at No. 8, he’d at least consider it.

Lions will most likely make a trade during the three-day draft, but analysts say probably not on day 1.

Quinn has been aggressive throughout his career as a general manager, including trading up last year for Kerryon Johnson and Da’Shawn Hand in separate deals.

The 2019 draft is currently taking place in Nashville. The Lions will play the Cardinals on September 8th in Arizona. The Cardinals got QB Kyler Murray with the first overall pick of the first round.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Quandre Diggs Jersey

Ravens tight end Nick Boyle is tackled as he carries

Quandre Diggs said he doesn’t have any big purchases planned with his new contract.

“Y’all got to understand, I’m from the country,” Diggs said earlier this week. “I’m from a little town right outside of Houston, so we ain’t got nothing to spend money on.”

If Diggs wanted to, he’d have plenty of purchasing power after signing a three-year extension on Monday. His new deal includes a $4.5 million signing bonus and a $2 million roster bonus for 2019 that becomes fully guaranteed on Saturday.

All total, Diggs’ extension could be worth $20.5 million, and includes playing-time escalators of up to $600,000 annually starting in 2019.

With an average annual value of $6.84 million in new money, Diggs is the 15th highest-paid safety in the NFL, according to Spotrac, something that wasn’t lost on him when he signed his contract.

“It’s a good feeling because I have other friends in the NFL that’s also getting extended and getting deals like that so it makes us as feel good and it continues just to bring competition within,” Diggs said. “We’re all competing with each other.”

The Detroit Lions had a busy start to the early hours of Labor Day.

The Lions and defensive back Quandre Diggs agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension worth $20.4 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via sources informed of the transaction.

Diggs was entering the final year of his contract, which pays a base salary of $1.9 million, and his versatility to play cornerback and safety proved its worth.

Since entering the league in 2015 as a sixth-round pick out of Texas, Diggs has appeared in 44 games with 19 starts. He solidified his position on the roster in 2017 by starting a career-high 11 games, which included making the switch from nickel cornerback to strong safety in December. With the expanded role last year, Diggs produced a career-high 55 tackles, a sack, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.

The extension signals the Lions’ trust that Diggs can continue the production to help turn around a pass defense that finished the 2017 season ranked 27th in the league.

The Lions made another move Monday morning designed to bolster defense and special teams.

The Lions signed former New England Patriots linebacker Marquis Flowers, Rapoport reported. The move reunites Flowers with Lions coach Matt Patricia, who previously served as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator.

Ricky Wagner Jersey

Scott Otto had just returned to his office Wednesday when he checked his phone to find he had a missed text message from Ricky Wagner.

“It’s Detroit,” read the text, and Otto knew exactly what his former star football player was talking about.

Wagner agreed to a free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, making him the highest-paid pure right tackle in the NFL.

Players cannot officially sign contracts until the 2017 league year opens at 4 p.m. Thursday, but NFL Network reported Wagner’s deal will eclipse $9 million per season.

Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles signed an extension last year worth $11.2 million annually, but that was in anticipation of his eventual move to left tackle. Other top right tackles, such as Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers and Mitchell Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs, average less than $7 million annually on their recently signed deals.

The Lions, looking to both upgrade their running game and better protect quarterback Matthew Stafford, targeted Wagner as a replacement for Riley Reiff on their young but emerging offensive line.

Wagner, a three-year starter with the Baltimore Ravens who doesn’t turn 28 until October, was considered the top right tackle on the market, and the Wisconsin native found allure in returning to the Midwest and reuniting with Lions coach Jim Caldwell, his offensive coordinator his rookie season.

Detroit Lions agree to terms with LB Paul Worrilow

“Detroit fits in so many ways,” said Otto, Wagner’s coach at Hale High in West Allis, Wis. “It is close to home. I think they’re obviously a very good up-and-coming team, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He loves Caldwell. I know that. I believe Caldwell was his O.C. at Baltimore his first year, and so he said he always got along with Coach Caldwell and said, he goes, ‘I have not met a nicer, better, human being than Coach Caldwell,’ so I know he’s really very fired up about that. But if you know Ricky, I still think in his mind this is all surreal. He’s just a kid from West Allis, Wis., that is kind of living his dream.”