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By: Kenneth Arthur
The Rams’ elite rookie led the NFL in drops, which Puka Nacua says can never happen again
One of the biggest stars in the lead up to the Super Bowl is not even playing in the game, but it seems like every podcast and reporter on the planet wants to talk to Puka Nacua. No surprise there, as the L.A. Rams breakout star of the year shocked the world with 105 catches and 1,486 yards in his rookie season, setting NFL records for both. But there’s one category that Puka led the NFL in this season that is not as publicized and that he heavily regrets:
Though there is some fair criticism out there in using drops as a stat, Puka Nacua doesn’t care if others think “drops” is overrated. In an appearance on the GoJo and Golic podcast, Puka says that he just learned that he led the NFL in drops and “I can never let that happen again”.
Puka Nacua had 13 drops in 2023, one more than second place Tyreek Hill, the frontrunner for Offensive Player of the Year.
“The role model for me on the Rams has been Cooper Kupp. He’s been a big brother to me. He’s giving his best effort every time he’s out there. I want to work on that in the offseason … I learned I led the league in drops, so I can never let that happen again.”@AsapPuka pic.twitter.com/ZvHBC7R2Jt
— GoJo and Golic (@GoJoandGolic) February 8, 2024
Even if Nacua did led the NFL in drops, it is worth noting that he was targeted 160 times, so his drop percentage of 8.1% ranked 13th. Actually, that was only the third-worst on his own team, as Tyler Higbee dropped 10% of his targets and Kyren Williams dropped 8.3%. Jerome Ford led the NFL with a 14.3% drop rate, while the highest for any receiver was Seahawks rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who dropped 10.8%.
Still, there are plenty of questions as far as “what is a drop?” and “who is responsible for a drop?” and “are all drops equal?”
NFL Operations released a study in 2023 titled “How NFL Stadiums Factor in Dropped Passes” that highlighted out factors like stadium, lights, and time of day can factor into drops. For example, the 10% drop rate at Arrowhead Stadium at night is way higher than any other stadium at any other time of day.
SoFi Stadium, which has a much smaller sample size than most other home stadiums, is actually below the average. But has only been around since 2020 and doesn’t play “early afternoon” games for the east coast.
PFF did a study in 2021 to ask how responsible QBs are for dropped passes, and actually Matthew Stafford had one of the lowest rates in the NFL from 2016-2021.
But all Puka seems to care about is, “See ball, catch ball” which is what any good receiver would do. Puka isn’t a good receiver. He’s a great one.