Did you know this mind-blowing fact about Rams WR Puka Nacua?

The Players Tailgate 2024 at Super Bowl in Las Vegas - Puka Nacua, Sage Steele
The Players Tailgate 2024 at Super Bowl in Las Vegas - Puka Nacua, Sage Steele / Jesse Grant/GettyImages

When the LA Rams stepped up to the 2023 NFL Draft podium to announce their selection with the 177th overall pick in Round 5, Brigham Young University wide receiver Puka Nacua waited patiently through three days and countless hours of anticipation. When would the phone ring? Would he be drafted? Would he be forced to shuffle through the countless number of offers that bombard both players and agents alike after the draft concluded?

The phone did ring, and the phone was the formal announcement by Rams GM Les Snead to Puka Nacua that they intended to draft him to the LA Rams. It was an exciting moment that is one of the highlights of the 2023 NFL Draft. And yet, a selection in Round 5 was not the typical spot to land the absolute best rookie receiver in the history of the NFL.

"That would make day. That would be amazing. "

Puka Nacua

And yet, the performance of Puka Nacua that led to his selection by the Rams in the draft continues to defy explanation. Not from the perspective of what were the Rams thinking. Quite the opposite, actually. How did a young man who was a workaholic and so productive in NCAA college football fall so far as to be on the draft board late into Day 3?

One possible rationalization is that Puka Nacua simply did not stand out at the 2023 NFL Combine track and field events. While not a poor showing, his speed and agility scores from various events did not support a top-tier NFL receiver from his test results.

But there is so much more to football than track and field events. There is mental toughness. There is the ability to be in the exact spot at the perfect time to make the catch. And there is the prerequisite of a mind that is so sharply honed and trained to compete on the football field that the all-stops performance only happens with a football coming his way.

Here is what I mean by that:

So what did the Rams see that other teams failed to see? The Rams saw a tough football player who loves to compete as plain as day. There was no dissension in the room. Keep in mind that this was not the first pick of the draft, but rather the 177th overall pick. And yet there was passionate interest in selecting WR Puka Nacua from both GM Les Snead and HC Sean McVay.

This is simply a reminder to everyone that the NFL Draft is no more guaranteed than a scratch-off lottery ticket. That the NFL Scouting Combine is merely a track and field event that can miss wildly when trying to select star football players. But perhaps most of all, to trust the Rams organization to do what's right for the team.

In the end, Puka Nacua's performance at the 2023 NFL Combine was very impressive. Fans simply needed to pay attention to the most important achievement of the week-long event. Ultimately, Nacua would go on to outperform every other NFL rookie wide receiver in the history of the game.

And yet, as another twist of irony, he found the Rams defensive backs to be the toughest that he faced all season long. Now you know.