Puka Nacua could ensure Matthew Stafford's path to the NFL Hall of Fame

Is there even the slightest of chance that Puka Nacua could do what Calvin Johnson and Cooper Kupp could not?
New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford has been responsible for the two best receiving yards seasons in NFL history. Could Puka Nacua be next in line for that? Both WR Calvin Johnson (with the Detroit Lions) and WR Cooper Kupp (with the LA Rams) have the two highest receiving yardage totals in a season in NFL history. Both came just short of the 2,000-yard mark, but as we know, their QB was Matthew Stafford.

Well, it seems like Stafford has his next Johnson or Kupp with Puka Nacua, who was a top-5 wide receiver as a rookie. He also set a new NFL All-Time Rookie Receiver record. Nacua is a do-it-all player. He's got the size, route-running, agility, and he can block if needed. An interesting debate that will need to be had soon is whether or not Matthew Stafford ends up in the NFL Hall of Fame.

If he retired now, it probably would not be a slam-dunk. He's got the Super Bowl and the statistics, but the losing record is surely something that would be held against him. However, I do believe there is something that could give him the slam-dunk case for the HOF enshrinement one day, and that'd be a 2,000-yard WR under his belt.

He came close with Calvin Johnson and Cooper Kupp. Could Puka Nacua be the guy? Could he ensure that Matthew Stafford ends up in the Hall of Fame? In 2023, Nacua's rookie season, he was targeted 160 times and hauled in 105 receptions. He accumulated 1,486 yards and six touchdowns. Nacua averaged 87.4 yards per game and caught 65.6 percent of his targets.

Let's do some math here. A 2,000-yard season in the 17-game schedule comes out to 117.6 yards per game. Nacua averaged 14.2 yards per receptions during his rookie season. If he kept that total in year two, he'd need 141 receptions to hit the 2,000-yard mark.

If Puka Nacua again hauled in 65 percent of his targets, 141 receptions would mean he'd get targeted 215 times. Are these numbers unattainable? Well, in 2021, Cooper Kupp was targeted 191 times and hauled in 145 passes. In Calvin Johnson's 2012 season, he was targeted 204 times and hauled in 122 receptions.

The averages from Kupp's and Johnson's 1,900+ yard seasons comes out to 198 targets and 134 receptions. If that's exactly what Puka Nacua did in 2024 and kept his 14.2 yard per reception, he'd end up with 1,903 yards. So, some math would tell us that Nacua needs to haul in more receptions, have a higher yards per reception, or I suppose simply get open more.

It's possible, though, as you can see from the calculations I just ran. Overall, Matthew Stafford's Hall of Fame case might be shaky at this point. It's not a slam-dunk case, even though I and others may think he should get in. Puka Nacua is entering hsi second year in the NFL and still has fresh legs under him. And with Stafford's history in targeting his best players, this could be the year that the 2,000-yard wide receiver is achieved.

If so, Matthew Stafford would certainly punch his ticket to Canton.