When the Los Angeles Rams introduced that Cooper Kupp would start the season on injured reserve, that was purported to considerably hinder their offense. He was focused 191 instances throughout his first-team All-Professional 2021 marketing campaign. In 2022, Kupp had 98 targets in solely 9 video games. In his place has stepped rookie fifth-round decide Puka Nacua. He has been focused 35 instances in two video games, and hauled in 25 receptions.
Nacua turned the primary participant in NFL historical past to tally at the least 10 receptions for 100 yards in every of his first two video games. His 15-catch, 147 yards efficiency on Sunday broke the rookie report for receptions in a single recreation. The Rams could have misplaced 30-23 to the San Francisco 49ers, however Nacua proved in that recreation that he’s right here to remain as a featured choice within the Rams offense.
The Rams chosen Nacua out of BYU within the fifth spherical of the 2023 NFL Draft. They’ve been impressed by the younger man’s efficiency all through the offseason. His poise and playmaking has allowed Matt Stafford to really feel wheel and deal even together with his high cross sidelined for at the least 4 weeks.
Nacua started his profession at Washington. In his second yr with that program, the COVID 2020 season wherein the Huskies performed solely 4 video games, he averaged 16.8 yards per catch. He determined to switch to BYU in 2021 together with his brother Samson. His first yr in Provo, Nacua averaged 18.7 yards per reception, hauled in six touchdowns, and in addition ran for 148 yards. As a senior, he had a Deebo Samuel sort of season dashing for 209 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He went low within the draft due to issues about his pace and quickness, though a few of his greatest performances at BYU had been towards Energy 5 opponents. In a recreation towards Arkansas final season, Nacua caught 8 passes for 147 yards, and a landing, and in addition reached the tip zone twice on the bottom.
The remainder of the NFL’s loss has been fairly the achieve for the Rams. By way of two weeks they’ve discovered a participant who — regardless of his youth — has been in a position to click on with Stafford and assist the Rams tread water at 1-1 by means of two video games. Though the 49ers are a buzzsaw, the Rams had been in a position to sustain with them for 3 quarters. If not for 2 second-half interceptions — considered one of which went straight by means of the palms of a large open Kyren Williams — they could have pulled off a large upset.
If they’d knocked off the mighty 49ers a significant purpose why would have been Nakua. This fifth-round draft decide was focused 20 instances in his second NFL recreation by a veteran quarterback with a Tremendous Bowl ring.
The long run is shiny for Nakua, and for the Rams whose “F them picks” method to the NFL Draft lastly caught up with them final season — together with accidents to Stafford, Kupp, and Aaron Donald. Once they add Kupp again to this offense, the Rams would possibly as soon as once more have probably the most dynamic passing assaults in the whole NFL.
In fact as soon as Kupp returns he would be the point of interest of the offense, and get the lionshare of the targets. Nevertheless, the pass-catching menace who has caught 25 passes in two video games, and the eye of the whole NFL, has the Rams already considering playoffs one yr after going 5-12.
I suppose Nakua is fast sufficient for the NFL in spite of everything.