Rookie Puka Nacua has been breaking receiving records all season long with the Los Angeles Rams and on Sunday he was able to claim another when he broke the franchise record for most receptions in a season by a first-year player, as he’s currently sitting at 64 catches with eight games left to go.
Nacua is also only 97 yards away from claiming the franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie.
The Rams seemingly believed Nacua possessed talent when they selected him 177th overall in the fifth round of the draft this year. However, Nacua was not exactly a stand-out receiver in college, with his most prolific season being his junior year at BYU, at which time he amassed 805 yards and six touchdowns along with an additional 148 yards on the ground.
While those aren’t bad stats, they don’t jump out as numbers that would suit someone who is the best receiver in the draft so far. On top of that, Nacua doesn’t stand out physically, at 6’1’’ 210 lbs, he’s about as average as they come. All that said, Nacua has been anything but average with the Rams this season, a true “diamond in the rough”, far exceeding any expectations that even Les Snead and Sean McVay probably had for the rookie.
What makes it all the more impressive is that he did it in just nine games.
Nacua takes the receptions record from current Los Angeles superstar Cooper Kupp, who set the previous record in 2017. In what has been a relatively disappointing season for the team, Nacua has been an absolute bright spot and looks to be a cornerstone franchise player for years to come.
Nacua also holds the NFL record for most rookie receptions through eight games, and is on pace for 121 receptions, which would blow the current NFL rookie record of 104 receptions out of the water, held by Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle.
As far as receiving yards, Nacua would be passing Eddie Kennison for the franchise record, as he had 924 yards and nine touchdowns with St. Louis in 1996.
There are plenty of gems in Los Angeles’ draft class this season, as Steve Avila looks to be an anchor on the offensive line, and Byron Young and Kobie Turner are both starting to stand out along the defensive line as well, but none of the players drafted by LA compare to the success Nacua is having, making him a legitimate threat to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Rams will need every bit of Nacua’s talents if they hope to save their 3-6 season, heading into a bye week and a pivotal divisional game at home vs. the Seattle Seahawks in two weeks.
Puka had 119 yards in Week 1 against the Seahawks. If he can do that again, he’ll not only be giving L.A. a chance to win, he’ll also hold yet another franchise record.