Puka Nacua was selected 177th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2023 NFL Draft after playing nine games in his final year at BYU, scoring five touchdowns with 625 yards
Puka Nacua, wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, has shared his thoughts on why he was overlooked in the 2023 NFL Draft before setting four rookie records this season.
He showed all the other teams what they missed out on after being snubbed until the 177th overall pick made by the Rams. Nacua played nine games in his final year at BYU, scoring five touchdowns with 625 yards off 48 receptions.
He then started all 17 regular season games for the Rams and set rookie records with 1,486 yards off 105 receptions, scoring six touchdowns. The wide receiver then set a rookie postseason record with 181 yards against the Detroit Lions on Wild Card Weekend, but the Rams were knocked out after losing 24-23.
After reviewing the 2023 season, hypothetical re-drafts have taken place, and Nacua has often been a top-five contender, proving that teams overlooked him by letting him slide into the fifth round. Nacua is thankful for his success in 2023, and his big break came when star receiver Cooper Kupp suffered a hamstring injury just days before their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
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There have been many cases where players have gone on to excel after sliding in the draft, but Nacua has a theory explaining why he wasn’t highly sought after. “I guess running fast, the 40-yard dash carries a lot of weight and that’s something I didn’t thrive in,” he said to Mirror US Sports.
“Not too often in my play style do I run in a straight line for 40 yards, so I think that was one of the reasons why.” Nacua has shown that not all stats are super important, but he’s still keen to get even better after a brilliant first season. The young star is up for Offensive Rookie of the Year but he shared one bit he wants to fix for next year.
“I learned I led the league in drops so that’s something I will definitely try to work on,” Nacua shared with the press. He also wants to keep fit all year round after being on the field for most of the Rams snaps last season.
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“I think in most games I played close to 100 percent of snaps and that’s a goal of mine to be out there for every snap. I feel I’m capable of doing that. In the run game and in the passing game.” Thanks to his teammate Kupp, Nacua got his big chance to begin with, but since returning he’s also helped him ditch his late-night gaming habit.
Nacua used to stay up playing games at night in college, but now he hits the hay early. “I was not a good sleeper in college, I was up late at night playing video games but now Cooper Kupp wouldn’t like that so I go to bed really early now,” he explained.
The Rams have made a significant comeback after a disappointing 5-12 finish in 2022, largely due to several early-season injuries. If they manage to keep Kupp and Nacua healthy next season, they could be back in the running for the Super Bowl, especially considering their Championship win in 2021.