Los Angeles Rams: New Data Reveals Secrets Behind Puka Nacua’s Red Hot Rookie Season

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua had defenders’ heads spinning throughout his rookie season. Now that he shattered historic rookie receiving records, he has the analytics community spinning trying to figure out the hows and the whys of how a fifth-round rookie took the league by storm

Let’s look at some of the top breakdowns of how these firms are attempting to understand Nacua’s greatness.

What Route Did Puka Nacua Dominate?

According to PFF’s grading, Nacua led the way on crossing routes, with his 441 yards including the playoffs coming in 180 yards more than the next-best receiver.

“The standout first-year target had a massive rookie season,” Mason Cameron of PFF writes, “showing the ability to win in any circumstance. Press him, he beats you. Shade him, he beats you. Anticipate him, he beats you.

As one of PFF’s three highest-graded rookies of the 2023 regular season, Nacua was especially dangerous after the catch. The Rams receiver was explosive after contact, generating 372 yards, the most by any receiver in the NFL this past season.

Paired with his after-the-catch ability is Nacua’s general consistency for gaining separation, a lethal combination in the Rams’ scheme. Gaining open separation on 82% of his 163 targets helped produce the league’s fourth-highest yards per route run (2.75) among eligible receivers.”

Nacua Verses Press Coverage

Yahia Hassan of Stat Bomb Football shows that even when cornerbacks were attempting to out-physical Nacua, he was still able to produce big numbers.

Los Angeles Rams Found Their Next Great Receiver

This data shows not only that Nacua was good against multiple defensive schemes, especially good against Cover 0 man protection.

It also shows where he best performed on the field when targeted. He performed at his best and was targeted the most over the middle of the field, between the line of scrimmage and down the field 10 yards. He also dominated when lined up on the outside right, but was targeted less when running those routes,

Puka Nacua
David Reginek-USA TODAY SportsCredit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports