CB Gabe Jeudy: "He's (Puka Nacua's) legit." So who has Nacua-potential in this draft?

The LA Rams found a winning lottery ticket on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Can the team repeat that success in 2024? Let's revisit Puka Nacua's impact, and then pivot to this draft class to examine if another gold nugget is hiding in the rookie silt of this rookie class.

13th Annual NFL Honors - Arrivals, Puka Nacua
13th Annual NFL Honors - Arrivals, Puka Nacua / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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If you thought that Brigham Young University wide receiver Puka Nacua would be a solid NFL contributor in the days leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, you were one of only a small group of NFL fans who had a true appreciation of this young man's upside. Unlike many young NFL hopefuls who want to get the ball to impress their skills for coaches, Nacua was content to invest his time with QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp to fully understand his role before taking the football field.

It seems that when it comes to the wide receiver position, NFL draft scouts struggle to identify the 'it' factor at times. How else can you categorize the draft profiles that had the 6-foot-2 202-pound Rams receiver as a Day 3 prospect who would likely hear his name called out in Round 6 or 7 of the 2023 NFL Draft?

Let's face it, there was nothing wrong or abnormal around the NFL Draft process that allowed the LA Rams to call out Puka Nacua's name with the 177th overall pick in Round 5 of the 2023 NFL Draft. On draft day, some draft analysts believed that the Rams had reached a bit for the young man, believing that he would still be on the board as late as Round 7.

Thankfully, the Rams wisely thought otherwise.

But even after the fact, Rams GM Les Snead continues to be amazed at just how well rookie WR Puka Nacua performed for the team in 2023. That's not to say that Snead did not anticipate Nacua's fit. It's simply highlighting the fact that the number of variables that must line up for a productive season for an NFL rookie is too numerous to anticipate with any accuracy. So the best any NFL general manager can hope for is to land a player who makes the most of any opportunity bestowed upon them by the coaching staff.

Opportunities are not something anyone can project. It's simply blind luck for Nacua that veteran WR Cooper Kupp started the 2023 NFL season on the Injured Reserve roster. That opened the door for starting QB Matthew Stafford to build chemistry with his rookie receiver over the first four games. That chemistry and production was so impressive, that when Kupp was healthy enough to return to the active roster, the front office was willing to trade promising WR Van Jefferson away to make room for Kupp.

Let's start with revisiting how the Rams were able to perceive Puka Nacua's NFL potential. Once we have that in our utility belt, we can pivot to the 2024 NFL Draft class to try to identify Day 3 prospects who could shine in the NFL.

All set? Here we go . . .