Yes, it’s only two been two games. But the Los Angeles Rams have witnessed one of the strongest starts in league history for a rookie wide receiver.
How strong for Puka Nacua? He leads not one, but seven different Pro Bowl wide receivers in various categories.
Who Does the Rams Rookie Lead & in What Categories?
Nacua, the fifth rounder out of BYU, is tops in five different statistical categories over multiple wideouts with Pro Bowl credentials.
Outlined by NFL Rookie Watch on X (formerly known as Twitter), Nacua has produced the following stats:
Receptions: Nacua isn’t just the league’s leading wide receiver, but his 25 catches puts him ahead of three different Pro Bowlers in the top five — Justin Jefferson (20) of the Minnesota Vikings, Stefon Diggs (17) of the Buffalo Bills and Tyreek Hill (16) of the Miami Dolphins. All three have carved out their careers as perennial Pro Bowlers.
Receiving yards: While he trails Jefferson’s 309 yards, Nacua’s 266 puts him ahead of Hill, Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (237), CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys (220). He also has more yards than past 1,000-yard WR Chris Olave of the New Orleans Saints (198), perennial Pro Bowler Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers (187) and 2022 NFC champ and 1,000-yard WR DeVonta Smith (178) of the Philadelphia Eagles in the top 10 for 2023 receiving yards.
First downs: Nacua has caught 13 passes that have given the Rams first downs. That’s more than Lamb, multiple Pro Bowler Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders (9) and Diggs, who also has nine first downs.
Average yards per game: Nacua is second in the league at averaging 133 yards per game. That’s more than Hill’s (127.5), Evans (118.5) and Lamb’s (110) average.
Yards after catch: This is where Nacua has proven he fits the Rams, in the YAC category. He leads all NFL WR’s with 111 yards after the catch. That’s more than what Lamb and Jefferson both have (103).
For those who followed along this far, this all means that Nacua has put up better stats than the following Pro Bowl talents: Jefferson, Diggs, Hill, Evans, Lamb, Allen and Adams. That’s seven different Pro Bowl wideouts he’s outplayed so far.
Now comes if Nacua can continue stacking the production.
Could Nacua’s Fast Start Get Disrupted?
Nacus has played a significant part in reinvigorating the Rams offense. And despite the 30-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Nacua elevated his numbers against what was the league’s best defense a year ago with 15 catches for 147 yards. And he posted that production catching against six different 49ers he drew in coverage.
But per Pro Football Focus, he had his most success versus the 49ers’ CB1 option Chavarius Ward, as Nacua caught four passes for 50 yards and got three first downs facing the past Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs. He also had success against the 49ers’ fast rising CB Deommodore Lenoir, as all three of Nacua’s catches against “The Hyena” ended in first downs.
Ram fans, though, are likely keeping in mind who is expected to come back come October: The beloved Super Bowl 56 Most Valuable Player Cooper Kupp once he’s healed from his hamstring. Even without No. 10, the Rams have averaged 26.5 points per game on offense and have led all NFC teams with an average of 406 yards per game.
Will this mean a decrease for Nacua? Time will tell. But the Rams have proven to be efficient and explosive on offense in the absence of Kupp. And Nacua has out-performed multiple decorated Pro Bowls in the Rams’ offensive improvement from 2022.