Puka Nacua draft

Puka Nacua draft

Puka Nacua, a talented rookie wide receiver selected by the Rams in the fifth round and 177th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, is a steal. At least one pass on Nacua was made by all 32 clubs, while 19 other wide receivers were selected before the eventual Pro Bowl player. With 25 receptions in…

Puka Nacua, a talented rookie wide receiver selected by the Rams in the fifth round and 177th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, is a steal.

At least one pass on Nacua was made by all 32 clubs, while 19 other wide receivers were selected before the eventual Pro Bowl player. With 25 receptions in his first two games and over 100 yards receiving in three of his first four, the BYU graduate showed how effective he could be right away.

Puka Nacua draft
Puka Nacua draft

Nacua had the greatest rookie wide receiver season in NFL history, despite the fact that no one could have predicted this kind of breakthrough. His 1,486 receiving yards and 105 receptions set records for the most by a rookie ever, surpassing the totals of Bill Groman (1,473 in 1960) and Dolphins sensation Jaylen Waddle (104 in 2021).

How did Nacua slip in the 2023 NFL Draft and go unnoticed? Below, Sporting News reviews his scouting report and college numbers.

MORE: Sporting News’ NFL experts make their playoff, Super Bowl 58 picks

Puka Nacua college stats

Nacua played four years in college, spending the seasons of 2019 and 2020 at Washington and the remaining two of 2021 and 2022 at BYU.

Nacua never dominated at the collegiate level the way he did during his rookie season in the NFL, which is surprising. He was never named an All-Conference or All-American. He never finished a season with 1,000 receiving yards or more than ten touchdown receptions.

Nonetheless, he finished his career at BYU with 10 touchdowns overall, including 5 running scores and 209 rushing yard.

YearSchoolGRec.Rec. YdsRec. TDRush YdsRush TDs
2019Washington87168200
2020*Washington39151100
2021BYU124380561480
2022BYU94862552095
Total321071,749143575

Puka Nacua NFL Draft scouting report

At the NFL Combine, Nacua recorded a 40-yard sprint time of 4.57 and was listed at 6-2, 201 pounds.

Among his draft peers at his position, Nacua ranked 12th and 47th, respectively, according to the NFL’s “Next Gen Stats” system, which assigns a production and athleticism score to each combine prospect. He was ranked as the 37th-best receiver in the class overall based on those scores, which was obviously inaccurate.

Nacua was ranked as a “average backup or special-teamer” by Prospect Scout and was predicted to be selected in the sixth or seventh round.

Strengths

  • Routes offer leverage and crisp angles on the move
  • Nice job of gaining vertical stack on cornerbacks
  • Basketball background on display when making contested catches
  • Gains late catch space with physicality and hand fighting
  • Battered defenses as jet-sweep option
  • Tough and slippery with the ball in his hands

Weaknesses

  • Will struggle to elude NFL press coverage
  • Lacks instant acceleration to separate
  • Upright route running makes him easy to redirect
  • Does not have the long speed to keep corners from squatting
  • Occasional issues with focus on downfield targets

Wide receivers taken in 2023 NFL Draft

It’s reasonable to believe that Nacua would not be selected with the 177th choice and fifth round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if every NFL team had a chance to start over.

Before the breakout star, 19 wide receivers were selected; some of them had strong rookie seasons, while others had less of an impact.

All season long, top choices for their quarterbacks included prospects like Jordan Addison, Rashee Rice, and Zay Flowers. Some, like Tank Dell, Jayden Reed, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, had promising moments that should have their teams optimistic about the future. But none produced as much as Nacua did.

The 19 wide receivers chosen in front of Nacua in the 2023 NFL Draft are listed below.

RoundPickPlayerTeamSchool
120Jaxon Smith-NjigbaSeahawksOhio State
121Quentin JohnstonChargersTCU
122Zay FlowersRavensBoston College
123Jordan AddisonVikingsUSC
239Jonathan MingoPanthersOle Miss
250Jayden ReedPackersMichigan State
255Rashee RiceChiefsSMU
263Marvin MimsBroncosOklahoma
369Tank DellTexansHouston
373Jalin HyattGiantsTennessee
374Cedric TillmanBrownsTennessee
379Josh DownsColtsNorth Carolina
394Michael WilsonCardinalsStanford
3100Tre TuckerRaidersCincinnati
4125Derius DavisChargersTCU
4131Charlie JonesBengalsPurdue
4133Tyler ScottBearsCincinnati
5150Justin ShorterBillsFlorida
5159Dontayvion WicksPackersVirginia
5177Puka NacuaRamsBYU

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