When the LA Rams selected BYU WR Puka Nacua with the 177th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in Round 5, the hope for his contribution in the offense was a bit limited. Not from a standpoint of Nacua's abilities, but from the perspective that rookie receivers struggle to check all of the boxes to earn playing time for HC Sean McVay.
When a player is selected on Day 3 of a draft, there are reasons (right or wrong) for it. He was viewed as a less-than lightning-fast receiver out of the gate. perhaps a young man who fought injuries, and some NFL scouts viewed him as a prospect who would struggle to create separation in the NFL. But those concerns were not how the season played out for Nacua in his first year in the NFL, which you can review in our initial assessment of his spot on the roster.
But nobody could have anticipated just how effectively he would perform in 2023. When he was asked which was the toughest defensive back he faced, he asked if he could name a player from his team. You can check out that response from this link here:
If that doesn't work, you can check out the clip below:
Question posed: Who was the toughest defensive back that you went up against this year?
"Can I give it to one of our own guys? I would say Tre Tomlinson or Ahkello Witherspoon, guys who I got to go up against in practice all of the time because they know all my moves. For 18 weeks, they were like - okay, if I press, Puka's going to go left, right, and I am going to go stick it to him right in the chest."- Puka Nacua
Puka Nacua participated in this Super Bowl Media Week interview as a Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Year nominee