Los Angeles Rams WR Puka Nacua Leads The Way Among Three Rookies Out To Set NFL Records In Week 18

Credit: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The three leading candidates for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award — Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua, Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta and Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud — are within striking distance of NFL records during the final weekend of the regular season.

The only difference is that Puka Nacua is the most likely to succeed in two categories.

While LaPorta has already tied the rookie record for receptions by a tight end, Puka Nacua can establish new rookie marks for receptions and receiving yards in a single season during the Los Angeles Rams‘ Week 18 matchup with the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams (9-7), the No. 6 in the NFC, have already clinched a playoff berth, and coach Sean McVay could decide to rest some key players. But Nacua, the surprising fifth-round draft pick out of BYU, might not be one of them, at least until he’s etched his name in the NFL record books.

Nacua (101 receptions for 1,445 yards) needs four catches to surpass Miami Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle‘s mark of 104 set in 2021.

In addition, Nacua needs only 11 yards to break Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase‘s NFL mark of 1,455 receiving yards, also set in 2021. He’s also 29 yards away from breaking an even older rookie record of 1,473 yards held by Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers since 1960.

Related: Top NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates: Puka Nacua takes over top spot

Puka Nacua Is Already The Best Rookie Receiver In Rams History

Puka Nacua
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Puka Nacua, the first rookie receiver in Rams’ history to reach 1,000 receiving yards, has already established one other all-time rookie record for most receptions in a single game, with 15 catches in Week 2 against San Francisco.

On top of that, Puka Nacua is tied for second all-time among rookies — joining Harlon Hill (1954), Odell Beckham Jr. (2014), and Justin Jefferson (2020) — with seven games of more than 100 yards receiving. Groman (nine) is the only rookie with more.

Meanwhile, LaPorta is tied with Keith Jackson (1988) at 81 receptions. While LaPorta should break that mark easily, the other ones might be too distant to catch. He needs 217 yards to pass Mike Ditka‘s receiving yardage record of 1,076 yards set in 1961, and three TD catches to match Ditka’s record of 12.

Nevertheless, LaPorta, with 140 more yards, can become the third rookie tight end with 1,000 receiving yards, joining Ditka and Kyle Pitts (2021).

As for Stroud, who has 3,844 passing yards, he needs a 530-yard passing day to tie Andrew Luck‘s 11-year-old rookie record of 4,374, set in 2012. Earlier in the season, Stroud, who missed two games while on concussion protocol, set a single-game record among rookies with 470 yards against Tampa Bay.