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The early steal of the draft: Rams may have a gem in WR Puka Nacua

2RW81GW Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua takes the field prior to an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

• Another wide receiver steal: Nobody saw it coming, but the Rams may well have unearthed the steal of the draft in the fifth round, two rounds lower than they found Cooper Kupp in 2017.

• Puka Nacua should be able to coexist with Cooper Kupp: Once Kupp returns from injury, Nacua can take on the former Robert Woods role as a complement to the star receiver.

• Looking for more grades and data? To access PFF Premium Stats, subscribe now!

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Puka Nacua is a fifth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams, the 20th receiver taken in the draft. He’s also the NFL’s leader in targets (33) and catches (25) through two weeks, and trails only Justin Jefferson in yardage.

How did this happen, is Nacua for real and what happens when Cooper Kupp returns from injured reserve to the Rams' offense?

Nacua had a good college career at BYU but never quite put together the kind of season that would have made him impossible to overlook by the NFL. His PFF grading over the final two seasons of his career was very good (84.2 and 89.8), but he recorded just 132 targets and 92 catches in the two campaigns combined. Those are totals eclipsed by multiple receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft in their final seasons alone.

In terms of grading, however, Nacua rivaled any of them. In fact, he had the best PFF grade of any receiver in the draft in their final seasons, but he played in only nine games and had significantly less opportunity.

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Nacua generated 3.5 yards per route run in that final college season, more than any of the receivers drafted in front of him.

To cut a long story short, there were signs he was an excellent college receiver, but the numbers didn’t overwhelm you the way they did for some other prospects and required a bit more digging to unearth. 


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