Puka Nacua is rapidly ascending to be one of the most likable and talented young players in the NFL, but he’s not the only player on the L.A. Rams offense to make a case for being elite at a young age. Kyren Williams was passed over 163 times in the 2022 NFL Draft until the Rams selected him out of Notre Dame, he missed a chunk of his rookie year with injury, then exploded starting in October to eventually lead the NFL in rushing yards per game.
The Rams now go into the 2024 offseason with not one, but two offensive juggernauts under 24 years old to build the offense around, not even including guard Steve Avila and an improving offensive line. As per the Rams social media account, Puka and Kyren are the first teammates in history to average at least 90 yards from scrimmage per game in a season before either had turned 24.
Talking 'bout these two, you know they're the ones. pic.twitter.com/RcKHNpE0Ja— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 5, 2024
Kyren overtook Cam Akers as the starter in Week 2 after the team traded him to the Minnesota Vikings and he scored four touchdowns in his first two games of the season. Williams had his first 100-yard rushing game in Week 4 against the Colts, also rushing for two touchdowns in that overtime win, then he had 158 rushing yards in a win over the Cardinals two weeks later.
But Williams missed the next four games, which is probably the only reason he finished with 1,144 rushing yards instead of 1,500+.
In only 12 games, Kyren Williams had over 1,100 rushing yards, 206 receiving yards, and scored 15 times. He did lose two fumbles against Washington, the toughest outing of his career so far because of that, except that he also rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown.
In the playoff loss to the Lions, Williams had 13 carries for 61 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
The Rams hold his rights for two more seasons.
But that wasn’t the most remarkable season by a Rams offensive player in 2023. No, that title easily belongs to Puka Nacua.
The fifth round pick out of BYU set rookie records for yards and catches. It wouldn’t be unusual for a player who had a lot of hype in offseason practices to turn out to be nothing more than overrated expectations, but that’s not Puka. He proved to be a steal from his first week of OTAs to the wild card loss in Detroit and he is a top-10 receiver in the NFL already.
Puka set records week after week, starting with 10 catches for 119 yards in Week 1 and then have 15 catches for 147 yards in Week 2. He had already set the record for most catches by a player of any experience level through the first two weeks of an NFL season, then just kept going at that pace with few exceptions.
Nacua had 163 yards in Week 4, 154 yards in Week 7, and then set another record in the playoffs with nine catches for 181 yards against the Lions.
Nacua had 105 catches for 1,486 yards and six touchdowns, also rushing for 89 yards. He won’t turn 23 until May and the Rams hold his rights for three more seasons. At this pace, expect Nacua to get a massive contract extension in 2026 if he keeps this up.
Sean McVay has two excellent weapons on the roster to build around for the foreseeable future, a positive sign for Matthew Stafford and whoever succeeds him.