Scout's Notebook: FB Naufahu Tahi

An obscure running back/fullback who was inactive for most of his time with the Vikings last season, Naufahu Tahi offers some intriguing possibilities as another option in the backfield with Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. Here's the full scouting report...

#38, Naufahu Tahi, RB-FB
(5117, 254, 4.78-4.87) Brigham Young

Personal:  Born 10/30/81, in Fontana, California.  One of four children of Manu and Sioseline Tahi.  Parents are from Tonga.  His family moved West Valley City, Utah in 1995, where Tahi attended Granger High School.  He earned Prep Star All-America honors and was selected by USA Today as the Utah Player of the Year.  He twice was named All-State and was an All-League performer as a sophomore, junior and senior.  Tahi was selected as the Granger High MVP his final year and registered over 5,700 yards rushing in four years.  He set the state high school record for rushing touchdowns (66, from 1996-98; since broken) and was regarded as one of the top five recruits in the state of Utah.  Married to the former SaLote Kinikini in April, 2003.

College:  Played in all 11 games as a true freshman at BYU in 1999, leading the team in rushing with 102 carries for 445 yards (4.4 avg.) and 2 touchdowns; also caught 10-72.  Had his right knee scoped following the season.  Served on a LDS mission in Jacksonville, Fla. the next two years (2000-01).  Redshirted in 2002 after returning to school.  Had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the spring of 2003.  Was charged with simple assault for a Feb. 12, 2003 incident at a Provo theater in which he was accused of punching a man.  Was arrested on April 23, 2003 on DUI suspicion after hitting two parked cars.  Tests revealed he was under the influence of prescribed medication for insomnia.  Saw limited action in all 12 games in 2003, rushing 34-77-1 (2.3 avg.) and catching 14-144-2.  Started 5-of-11 games in 2004, rushing 93-339-5 (3.6 avg.) and catching 16-139-1.  Finished his college career with career-high numbers rushing 97-497-6 (5.1 avg.) and caught 41-375-2 in 2005.  Missed one game (New Mexico) for violation of team rules.  General Studies major.

Measured 5117, 254-pounds at the Combine prior to the 2006 NFL Draft.  In pre-draft workouts he recorded 38 reps at 225 pounds, 1.68 10-yard dash, 2.82 20-yard dash, 4.78-4.87 40-yard dash, 33 ½-inch vertical jump, 8’-11” broad jump, 4.61 20-yard shuttle, 12.57 60-yard shuttle, 7.27 three-cone drill.  Bench-pressed 405 pounds, cleaned 370 and squatted 515.  Has 31 ½-inch arms and 9 ½-inch hands.

Pro:  Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006.  Was waived by the Bengals on Sept. 2, after missing most of the preseason with a foot injury.  Cleared waivers and was signed to the Bengals’ practice squad.  Was signed by the Vikings to their active roster Nov. 22, after fullback Tony Richardson was placed on injured reserve with a broken arm.  Inactive each week with the Vikings (Weeks 12-17) last season.

Positives:  Big, thick build with good short-area burst.  Surprisingly nimble and quick for his size.  Exceptional upper-body strength (38 reps at 225).  Versatile player who has played both fullback and tailback.  Shows good vision, slides off tackles and gets through the small creases of the defense.  Plays faster then his forty time.  Runs hard inside and shows quick feet and maneuverability through traffic.  Breaks tackles, fights for yardage and stays on his feet.  Can move the pile when he stays low.  Good balance and determination.  Catches the ball well, extending his hands away from the frame of his body and demonstrates the ability to adjust to the ball.  Productive pass receiver in college.  Learned to protect the ball better later in his college career.  Picks up the blitz effectively.  Good cut blocker.  Plays hard and competes.

Negatives:  Not as powerful or physical as his size would suggest.  Isn’t a true lead-blocker-type fullback; more of an in-betweener.  Isn’t a threat outside the tackles.  Runs too high at times, negating some of his power.  Lacks sustained speed.  Isn’t a gifted natural athlete.  Hasn’t yet proven the degree to which he will contribute on special teams.  Had some trouble with fumbles earlier in college.

Summary:  His versatility makes him a nice fit for the West Coast Offense, and he could prove to be a nice change-of-pace with some versatility in the backfield.

What they said:

“Tahi could fit as a fullback, H-back or move tight end.  [He] has the versatility to attract interest from a team that uses the West Coast offense.” – Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly

“Another player in the backfield with very quick feet is fullback Naufahu Tahi.  He joined the Vikings with six games remaining in the 2006 season, but this is the most extensive look the media has had of him.  He doesn’t look like the listed 6-foot-nothing the team has him at, but if he can contribute on special teams, he could find a roster spot again in 2007.” – Tim Yotter, Viking Update

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