How did 31 NFL teams pass on Puka Nacua? The Rams not only passed on him in the first four rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft — but they also passed on him three times in the fifth round too.
The former BYU star Puka Nacua, set a new record-holder of the most catches (25) to begin an NFL career through two games, and is now on pace to have the most receptions in NFL history in one season.
This is a rookie, and the 177th pick in the NFL Draft is coming in guns blazing. I wanted to look at four other amazing rookie years from players to see where Puka ranks.
Right now, Nacua has 39 receptions for 501 yards and just 1 touchdown. His one touchdown came this past weekend in overtime against the Colts to get the win. Nacua is looking like a beast, and if he keeps this up, he is on pace to pass to snap Michael Thomas’ record of 149 receptions in a single season.
Let’s look at four other players that had dominant rookie seasons.
4. Ja’Marr Chase, 2021
Chase was streaky as a rookie but produced scary dominance — highlighted by his rookie-record 266-yard detonation against the Chiefs — to top a lofty list of scorching Bengals receiver debuts. Chase’s 1,455 yards set an NFL rookie single-season record; his 389 playoff yards nearly helped the Bengals win it all.
3. Bill Groman, 1960
Despite coming out of a division III school, Groman led all AFL or NFL receivers by more than 150 yards as a rookie by compiling 1,473 for the Oilers. He did this in 14 games and is the record holder of the AFL! Groman helped power Houston to their first AFL championship. Groman had nine 100-yard games and totaled 12 TD catches, adding a 13th in the AFL’s first championship game.
2. Odell Beckham Jr., 2014
OBJ dazzled during one of the great breakouts in NFL history. The shifty playmaker did not surpass 50 yards in any of his first three games, making his 1,305-yard season all the more difficult. Beckham led the NFL with a rookie-record 108.8 yards per game. Although his storied catch against the Cowboys is the lasting image, Beckham scored 11 more TDs and instantly became the Giants’ centerpiece player.
1. Randy Moss, 1998
Moss only produced four 100-yard games — peaking with the legendary 3-163-3 Thanksgiving showcase in Dallas — but the Marshall alum caught a rookie-record 17 TD passes and added two more in the playoffs. Rewarding the Vikings after they stopped his draft slide, Moss became perhaps the toughest coverage assignment in NFL history and moved Cris Carter to WR2 status.
Can Puka Nacua keep it up and join the list above? He is already making a big time name for himself and is penciled in as my favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year right now.