Which of these 7 LA Rams rookies will take a huge step forward in 2024?

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp, Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams Training Camp, Sean McVay / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages
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IV: Call he top his rookie record setting season?

It would have been absurd to tout rookie wide receiver as the NFL's All-Time Rookie Leader in receiving yards, but that is exactly how the season turned out for the 177th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. And the ability to find elite talent late on Day 3 is why I scoff at any assertion that the Rams roster suffered from not having a pick in Round 1 of drafts that ran from 2017 through 2022.

Rookie WR Puka Nacua is not higher on this list for two reasons. The first is simply a matter of practicality. Can a young man who set the All-Time NFL Rookie Receiver Yards and Receptions record truly be held to a standard of top that?

2023 created a blending of factors for a perfect storm: Including a pass-proficient offense, a healthy elite quarterback in Matthew Stafford, and the absence of All-Pro WR Cooper Kupp for the first month of the 2023 NFL season. Those factors all contributed to a stellar Nacua debut in professional football, a debut that is highly unlikely to repeat itself in 2024.

Having a better 2024 season is relative after all, isn't it? I mean, the totals from 2023 that amounted to 105 catches out of 160 targets, 1,486 yards, and six touchdowns, is the type of performance that earns huge paydays if that player were to hit the 2024 NFL Free Agency market. The thing is, Puka Nacua remains on his rookie contract for three more seasons, until the end of 2026.

Just to be clear, Puka Nacua was the fourth-best WR in the NFL at any age, and at any experience level. Only Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill, Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb, and Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown gained more yards in 2023. That means that any call for Nacua to be better in 2024 is asking him to outperform NFL elite receivers for a second consecutive season.

I don't want to say that he cannot. I'm simply a bit more realistic in setting expectations for him this year.