Let's talk about LA Rams rookie sensation WR Puka Nacua.
Puka Nacua made 10 receptions for 119 yards in his NFL debut. A signature performance in a 30-13 win. A vital third-down conversion in the fourth quarter to keep a Rams' drive marching. Through it all, he exhibited unwavering confidence, particularly noteworthy from a 23-year-old in the biggest game of his life. Rams' rookie WR Puka Nacua is looking like an early steal of the 2023 NFL Draft.
It took Nacua one drop to settle into the game. In his postgame interview, Nacua talked about how he needed to get on his "P's and Q's," and that's what he did. Nacua was targeted 15 times, a team-high, and led the team in all receiving categories. Reports of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford "not knowing his receivers' names" have finally been put to bed. Not only does Stafford know his name, he may have found himself a new favorite target. Stafford looked to Nacua in vital situations, such as this throw in the fourth quarter.
Puka Nacua is the fourth player in NFL history to have ten receptions and over 100 yards in his first NFL game, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info. Nacua is also the first rookie WR to debut with over 100 yards since Ja'Marr Chase in 2021, per NFL Rookie Watch. LA Rams' GM Les Snead needed to win big in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Nacua may be that home run. While starting veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp is on IR for the first four weeks, it seems as if coach Sean McVay and the Rams will survive. Kupp's impact on the team is long-lasting, especially on Nacua, whom he's taken under his wing.
Nacua has gotten the chance to learn from Kupp during training camp and absorb how the veteran perfects his craft. He resembled Cooper Kupp's style, such as efficient route running, soft hands, and quickness. Now, Kupp's football brain is spilling into Nacua's.
Nacua's value to the LA Rams skyrocketed following his performance in Week 1. Few experts, if any, expected that type of game from Nacua, but they're learning quickly. While Cooper Kupp provided Matthew Stafford with a security blanket on the field in the past, could Nauca fill that role over the next three games? Puka seems built for the occasion. After just one game, he's already on Fox NFL's top-five rookie watch.
The LA Rams next three opponents are the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Indianapolis Colts. Three teams filled with proven players on defense. Nacua passed his first test in week one with flying colors. NFL defenses adjust to players from week to week, so Nacua is likely to be prepared for by opposing coordinators leading up to facing the Rams.
Puka will be a vital part of the offense for the next three weeks while Kupp is on IR. What happens when Kupp returns? No change is likely, as Nacua will slide into the third spot on the WR depth chart behind Kupp and Van Jefferson. Rams' rookie Puka Nacua is trending for all the right reasons. He could quickly become a fan favorite for Rams fans.