C.J. Stroud isn’t the only rookie chasing records. Don’t sleep on the Rams’ Puka Nacua

Rams receiver Puka Nacua is on pace to set an NFL record for most receptions by a rookie. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Might as well engrave the nameplate on the NFL offensive rookie of the year award now. After passing for 826 yards and six touchdowns in his last two games, Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud is lapping the field.

Stroud, the second overall pick in this year’s draft out of Ohio State, is on pace to pass for nearly 5,000 yards, which would smash the rookie record of 4,374 yards set by the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck in 2012.

Another rookie is also on pace to shatter an NFL record, yet he was the 177th pick in the draft.

Puka Nacua, the Rams receiver with the catchy name and irrepressible personality, has 64 catches through nine games, putting him on pace for 121 over 17 games.

The current record of 104 was set by the Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle in 2021. The only other rookie to reach triple digits in receptions is the Arizona Cardinals’ Anquan Boldin, who had 101 in 2003.

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It probably won’t be enough to eclipse Stroud for rookie of the year, but Nacua has exceeded expectations even though coach Sean McVay already felt he snagged the best player in the fifth round, a well-rounded receiver who could immediately become a legitimate second option to Cooper Kupp.

Nacua has been targeted by Rams quarterbacks 96 times — third most in the NFL — but he was first targeted by McVay. Although Nacua played only 32 college games at Washington and Brigham Young because of injuries, McVay saw enough film of his precision route-running, sticky hands and willingness to block to prioritize drafting him.

The Rams gambled that Nacua would remain on the board through four-plus rounds, primarily because 33 other rookie receivers ran faster 40 times than the 4.57 seconds he clocked. His pedestrian speed hasn’t kept him from making big plays: Nacua’s 16 receptions of at least…

Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/c-j-stroud-isnt-only-004843814.html

Author : LA Times

Publish date : 2023-11-18 00:48:43

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