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Will Puka Nacua rise to WR2 status by end of rookie season?

Could newly drafted wide receiver, Puka Nacua, become the Rams’ WR2 by end of rookie season?

BYU v USF Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

In the fifth-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected Puka Nacua out of BYU. While the Rams didn’t have a huge need at wide receiver entering the draft, they did need to add some depth behind Van Jefferson to compete with TuTu Atwell and Ben Skowronek.

Nacua couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot than the Los Angeles Rams. As our very own Evan Craig wrote, the BYU wide receiver is an ideal fit and has Robert Woods 2.0 written all over him.

Justin Melo from The Draft Network wrote about Nacua earlier this week and had this to say about the Rams’ fifth-round pick.

“Nacua has an opportunity to become the Rams’ No. 2 receiver before the season’s conclusion...(He) is a tone-setter on the perimeter that offers tremendous contested-catch ability. Nacua’s ability to box out defenders and high-point the football is evident while studying his tape. Nacua is also an impressive weapon with the ball in his hands as a playmaker with surprising run-after-catch production...(He) is also an outstanding blocker on the boundary. Sean McVay will appreciate his overall competitiveness. A healthier Stafford should lead to more positive passing-game results, which should in turn allow Nacua to make an early impact...Improved health for Stafford and Kupp will allow the Rams to field a return-to-form offense in 2023. Rookies like Nacua will play a role. Analysis of the depth chart indicates Nacua possesses every opportunity necessary to develop into a top receiving option in Los Angeles.”

The pathway for Nacua to make his way to the Rams’ number two wide receiver spot or carve out a significant role is there. Surpassing Jefferson won’t be easy as this will be his fourth year in the offense. However, he could certainly pass Skowronek if he can show that he can block and be reliable in the intermediate area of the field while also showing the ability to be a threat after the catch. Atwell meanwhile is more of a gadget player and deep threat.

Nacua may not come in and be an immediate contributor as the Rams do like to slowly work in their rookies. Still, by the end of the season, there is a potential role to be had. If Nacua can impress during training camp, he could earn playing time early in the season and then increase his role as the year goes on and he develops more of a rapport with Matthew Stafford.

It was pretty clear last year that the Rams missed Robert Woods and a legitimate wide receiver opposite of Cooper Kupp. Jefferson’s injury hampered his early season production and Allen Robinson never seemed to gel in the offense with Stafford. Nacua gets the Rams closer to the Woods mold of wide receiver which has been proven to work in the offense. Simply put, Nacua may just be a good fit in the offense. As mentioned, it may take time for Nacua to find his role. However, by the end of the season, he could be a consistent contributor in the offense.