Rams rookie WR Puka Nacua broke records. NFL awards results broke hearts.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Puka Nacua
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Puka Nacua / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

LA Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua is the NFL's All-Time Rookie Receiving Yaads and Receptions record holder. As a receiver, no first year player has been better. None. And yet, that was not good enough to earn him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors. In fact, it was not even close. Not close at all.

I'm truly not sure why the NFL tries to push the annual Offensive Rookie of the Year award as a comprehensive award that encompasses all offensive players. It isn't about that at all. A very good rookie quarterback will dominate the voting over an elite player who competes at any other position every time.

When a non-quarterback has won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, well quarterbacks were simply not that good. In the long run, I am by no means trying to throw shade at Houston Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud. He had an incredible rookie season, and by all accounts deserved to be given heavy consideration for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

But if the award is meant to represent all NFL offensive players, then something went awry this year. You see, QB C.J. Stroud passed for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. That was good enough to land him at third place in the NFL Rookie Passing Yards Records. Both Andrew Luck (2012, 4,374 yards) and Justin Hebert (2020, 4,336 yards) surpassed that mark.

But Rams rookie WR Puka Nacua looks up to nobody. He is the All-Time Rookie Receiving Yards and Receptions record holder. His 1,486 yards and 105 receptions leads all NFL rookie receivers on record, and the records go back as far as 1951. In second place is Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers (1960, 1,473 yards) and in third place is Ja'Marr Chase (2021, 1,455 yards). Curiously, Ja'Marr Chase won the OROTY award in 2021. Puka Nacua performed better, and yet received just 2 first-place votes.

Even RB Jonathan Taylor received 10 first place votes in 2021.

Perhaps the heartbreak would not sting nearly as much if Nacua had finished closer to Stroud in the voting. The final tally for OROY honors was:

  1. C.J. Stroud - 1st place (48) | 2nd place (2) | 3rd place (0) - 246
  2. Puka Nacua - 1st place (2) | 2nd place (48) | 3rd place (0) - 154
  3. Sam LaPorta - 1st place (0) | 2nd place (0) | 3rd place (40) - 40

Shouldn't there be some level of appreciation among voters for a player who sets all time records? I mean, I don't begrudge Stroud getting first place votes for coming in at third place among NFL rookie quarterbacks. But shouldn't there be at least 10 or more voters who appreciate the fact that Puka Nacua set all time rookie records?

It seems a shame that the only honors Puka Nacua claimed in the 2023 Fantasy Rookie of the Year.

So what does this all mean? Well, it almost guarantees that if rookie QBs Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels have good seasons as rookies in 2024, they will almost certainly win the OROY honors next year. If a young man cannot win the award by breaking all-time receiver records, then we may as well stop kidding ourselves.

This is a quarterback's award, and that is a heartbreaking discovery.