Jaren Hall, Puka Nacua still have work to do after BYU football’s Pro Day

Hall and Nacua both are projected to be drafted, but must still answer some questions about their health and skill sets.

(Nate Edwards | BYU) Quarterback Jaren Hall talks with a New York Jets scout at BYU's pro day on March 24, 2023.

Provo • Puka Nacua lived five minutes down the street from Jaren Hall in Orange County, Calif., all winter.

They’d spend most mornings working out, preparing for the NFL Draft with a group of other receivers and quarterbacks. During the day, they’d meet with NFL teams over Zoom. And when dusk hit, Nacua would usually retreat back to Hall’s apartment where they would eat sushi and watch Hall’s 1-year-old daughter, Jayda.

“And we would just talk, go over plays,” Nacua said. “We went to the Senior Bowl together. He met with every team before me. And I was like, ‘OK Jaren, you need to tell me everything you said. Because if you said anything slightly different — about a protection slide or anything — they are going to notice I messed up.’”

Nacua and Hall built a career together at BYU, winning 18 games in two years and knocking off eight Power Five teams. And now they are going through the draft process with one another, trying to navigate questions from NFL scouts.

Unlike fellow BYU teammate Blake Freeland, a projected first-round offensive lineman, Hall and Nacua have less certain futures when the draft rolls around in April. There are questions about their injury histories. Hall, who would be a 25-year-old quarterback entering his rookie season, has to answer questions about his age. Nacua has to prove he can track deep balls. No matter how productive both players were in college, their draft stock isn’t a certainty.

And as they went through BYU’s Pro Day on Friday, with all 32 NFL teams represented, they were reminded of that as they met with scouts and team personnel. Hall and Nacua both ran the 40-yard dash and put up decent numbers. Hall ran an unofficial 4.61 and Nacua ran 4.55, putting both in the middle of the pack for their position. But nothing they did, or didn’t do, at Pro Day was going to erase the looming questions.

“Staying healthy,” Nacua said of what teams still wanted to talk to him about. “I’m trying to get bigger for the physical game that we play. But also staying as fast and as explosive as you can.”

Hall threw on Friday afternoon as well. He mostly featured his mobility, throwing on the run and getting out of the pocket. It was a way, he said, to get scouts to notice what he does best.

“At the combine you throw everything under center,” Hall explained. “Threw it all in the pocket. So today just wanted to do a lot on the run and show the mobility side of things.”

After he threw, Hall had to answer questions about his health. After all, he was coming off an ankle injury he suffered in the final week of the regular season that hampered him for the NFL Combine and the Senior Bowl.

“I was 85, 90 percent. Probably more 85,” Hall said of his status at both events. “High ankle injuries take a while. Mine was a pretty severe one.”

Then he went on his pitch about why his past injuries shouldn’t bother NFL teams.

“I think I have shown over the years that I got healthy every year,” Hall said. “Last year I missed one game and that is the fewest I’ve had since I have started. I feel like I am older, but every year I get a little healthier.”

But a public pitch, he knows, won’t be enough. A team has to believe it. And that work will continue in the coming weeks as he meets with more decision-makers, long after any pro day.

Nacua falls into that same situation. He said he met mostly with the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks thus far. The Kansas City Chiefs have also been interested.

“Really, right now, teams are trying to get to know you. Senior Bowl, combine, Zoom calls, teams are just trying to understand how you are in meetings and how you watch tape,” Hall said. “They really want to see how you process the game. Interviews really show you who you are and how you think. I’ll know more about which teams are high up on me and which teams aren’t in the next couple of weeks.”

As BYU’s Pro Day ended, both Nacua and Hall started to pack their things to make their way to the athletics building. They had more meetings waiting for them, more questions to be answered.

And, they know, that won’t stop until draft day.

“[I] can’t stress or press too much about the process,” Hall said. “Because it comes down to the situation you land. You can’t control those things. So just find yourself and be the best you. Show the coaches who you are and the organizations the person you are.”