If you are down and out over another LA Rams loss to the San Francisco 49ers, this may help. You see, when the LA Rams selected former Brigham Young University's wide receiver Puka Nacua, the hope was that he could fill a developmental role for the LA Rams. After all, the Rams had traded away veteran WR Allen Robinson, and the Rams depth at the position had room to bring a new young talent along.
When the Rams selected Nacua with the 177th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the fit was obvious. The 6-foot-2 202-pound receiver was cut from the same bolt of cloth as former Rams WR Robert Woods, and current Rams All-Pro WR Cooper Kupp. Here is what we had to say in our first feature article about the young receiver:
"If you like a dependable and hard-working skill player on the offense, then you can sit back and enjoy what Puka Nacua brings to this LA Rams roster. He is quite similar to Rams WR Cooper Kupp in that he is not viewed as a particularly swift or athletic receiver. But when given the chance, he seems to find ways to make positive yards, move the chains, and score touchdowns."- Per Ramblin Fan's Bret Stuter
Nacua may be catching the NFL at large by surprise, but we've held him in high regard from the get-go. So far, he has not only met our beliefs in him, but he has exceeded even our lofty expectations. Best of all, he is one of many Rams rookies who will simply get better as the season goes on:
Nacua sets the record straight
While it's clear that Nacua is simply seizing the opportunity created by the absence of starting wide receiver Cooper Kupp, what is not clear is what happens with the Rams offense once Cooper Kupp returns to the starting lineup.
But for now, the LA Rams fans can boast that their future is as bright as it has ever been. WR Cooper Kupp arrived at the LA Rams in 2017. By 2018, the team was competing in Super Bowl LIII. Puka Nacua arrived at the LA Rams in 2023. Does 2024 hold a Super Bowl appearance on the horizon?
Perhaps. After all, nobody does it better than rookie Puka Nacua right now.
That point was made when, during the Week 2 broadcast, Nacua was named as the NFL record holder for the most receptions in the first two NFL games of his career:
He would go on to catch a total of 25 receptions in his first two games. In fact, in just two games, Nacua has caught 25 of 35 targets (a 71.2 percent catch rate)for 266 yards and 13 first downs. He is second among NFL receivers right now, second only to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who has caught 20 of 25 passes for 309 yards.
At this pace, Nacua is on pace to demolish the 2000 yard barrier for a receiver. Of course, this pace is unlikely to be sustainable. If nothing else, NFL defensive coordinators are already aware of Nacua, and will find creative ways to jam him at the line of scrimmage and interrupt his timing.
Nacua himself may not be able to sustain this pace. He is a rookie, from college football ranks that compete in far fewer games over the course of a football season. But here is a thought.
Even if Puka Nacua would catch just 20 yards per game over the remaining 15 games on the LA Rams schedule, he would end this season with 566 yards. That is more than all but Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee were able to put up better numbers over all of the 2022 NFL season.
The plan for the 2023 NFL season was to recharge this team with young talent and prepare for a run in 2024. So far, Puka Nacua is proving just how wise thats strategy is.