If you can't act, become a movie critic. That seems to be the path taken by former NFL quarterback Kyle Sloter, who has taken upon himself to analyze and critique LA Rams rookie sensation WR Puka Nacua. Now, everyone can have an opinion. But let's due our due diligence to voir dire the self-professed expertise of Sloter.
Kyle Sloter is a 2017 draft-class quarterback who never heard his name called out in the draft. It was never for a lack of self-confidence, but he never took on with an NFL team. Instead, his past six NFL seasons have been a series of tryouts, practice squads, releases, and then news tryouts. He has signed on with four different practice squads over the past seven seasons.
Sloter has never thrown a single forward pass in an NFL regulation game. He has never taken an offensive snap in a game. So when he weighs in to declare a wide receiver with 'average speed, below average quickness, and so-so route running,' is that coming from an objective assessment? Or is that merely a residual of some 'That could have been me out there!' type of sour grapes over the unlikelihood of his own NFL dreams being dashed at the age of 29 years of age?
Just someone raining on Nacua's parade is all
Sloter knew what he was about to say would poke a lot of NFL fans the wrong way. He is not associated with the LA Rams, nor does he have any insight into the career of Puka Nacua other than to single out Nacua after his third NFL Rookie of the Week honors, Here is Kyle Sloter's 'message' about Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua:
Nobody that I have read has suggested that Puka Nacua is walking on water. But to have over 700 yards in his first seven NFL games is a remarkable accomplishment on it's own merits.
Let's go down the list of some noteworthy NFL wide receivers in their rookie seasons:
- Puka Nacua | 7 games | 58 of 82 | 752 yards | 2 touchdowns
- Dez Bryant | 12 games | 45 of 73 | 561 yards | 6 touchdowns
- Cooper Kupp | 15 games | 62 of 94 | 869 yards | 5 touchdowns
- Calvin Johnson | 15 games | 48 of 93 | 756 yards | 4 touchdowns
- Justin Jefferson | 16 games | 88 of 125 | 1400 yards |7 touchdowns
- Tyreek Hill | 16 games | 61 of 83 | 583 yards | 6 touchdowns
- A.J. Brown | 16 games | 52 of 84 | 1051 yards | 8 touchdowns
As you can see, some of the best NFL wide receivers are names in the above list. And by every stretch of the imagination, the only difference for Puka Nacua is that his numbers reflect just seven games from his rookie season.
The bottom line is: Nacua is delivering
Yes, he has been targeted 82 times. But he still has to make those catches, which he is doing. And let's not rewrite facts. Nacua was the LA Rams' primary offensive weapon in his first four games. If he were a first-round pick, the entire NFL would be ablaze with his name and projections would claim that he is on his way to redefining the wide receiver position.
But he was not a top pick. He was the 177th player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, so Kyle Sloter feels perfectly within his rights to attempt to tarnish Nacua's stellar accomplishments.
Let's drop the NFL Scouting Combine chatter. Those speed and agility drills are designed to project how well a rookie prospect may perform once they are competing in the NFL. Somehow, that message is lost on Kyle Sloter, and he is trying to diminish his accomplishments in the NFL based on an outdated and inaccurate assessment of Puka Nacua's strengths and weaknesses.
The Rams rookie WR has 752 yards and two touchdowns in just seven games. That's amazing for a rookie wide receiver. Let's just leave it at that for now