The predictable news when it comes to the 2023 All-Pro list is that the Aaron Donald made first team for the eighth time in his 10-year career. Donald had to do more heavy lifting for the L.A. Rams defense than at any other point until now and still finished with eight sacks and 23 QB hits in 16 games.
Now the part that nobody saw coming from a million miles away at the start of the season: Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams are second-team All-Pros.
Just announced: The 2023 AP First and Second All-Pro Team: pic.twitter.com/Lwsxo3CoOf— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 12, 2024
If Puka Nacua had done what was expected of him as a fifth round pick, he would have been a special teamer and maybe fit into the offense as a fourth option, at times. If there were injuries.
Instead, Puka came through as the Rams number one receiver and set a record with 1,486 yards and 105 receptions. It would be very easy to claim that Puka landed into a perfect situation and took advantage of volume opportunities, but anyone who watched the games has seen that he’s a very special receiver. A unique player who would have been an All-Pro eventually, it’s just commendable that AP didn’t hesitate to honor him now only because he’s a fifth round rookie.
Somehow Puka Nacua is still less surprising than Kyren Williams.
Starting off the year as the expected complement/backup to Cam Akers, Williams proved in Week 1 to be the better running back and Akers was immediately traded. Though he was also a fifth round pick and didn’t do much as a rookie in 2022, Williams broke out as the season went on, finishing with the most rushing yards per game in the NFL at 95.3. He finished third in rushing yards even though he missed five games.
I posed this question on Twitter and I’m asking it to the TST community to share in the comments below: If you had heard before the season that two Rams would be second-team All-Pro and it wouldn’t be Donald, Cooper Kupp, or Matthew Stafford, which two players would you have guessed?
If you heard before the season that the Rams had two second team All Pro players not named Kupp, Stafford, or Donald (who got 1st team), which 2 players would you have guessed?— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) January 12, 2024
It would not have been Puka and Kyren for me, I know that. As I said, I was wrong about the Rams. I was wrong about these players too.