There were a lot of standout players for the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, from Matthew Stafford to Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell to Kyren Williams. A handful of defenders shined, too, including rookie Byron Young and safety Russ Yeast.
But only two Rams players earned national recognition for being two of the most underrated performers of Week 1 around the NFL. Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar highlighted Nacua and left tackle Alaric Jackson as two “Secret Superstars” in the first week of the season, an honor each player certainly deserved after seeing the way they played against the Seahawks.
Farrar mentioned just how good Nacua was when lining up at all different spots in the formation, from the outside position to the slot. The rookie finished with 10 catches for 119 yards, statistically the best debut ever by a Rams rookie receiver.
The first thing to note about Nacua, the fifth-round rookie out of BYU, is how he was utilized in the Rams’ 30-13 stunner against the Seahawks: 37 snaps out wide, seven in the slot, 18 tight to the formation, and two in the backfield. The second thing to note is the historic nature of his performance from all those locations. Nacua set a franchise record for receiving yards in a first career game, and that’s for a team that’s been in the NFL since 1937.
Jackson may not have been one of the highest-graded linemen in the league this week, but he was one of the best pass blockers. According to PFF, he had a pass-blocking grade of 88.5, allowing zero sacks and just one pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps. That grade of 88.5 was the third-best of any player in the NFL this week.
Jackson came into 2023 as the Rams’ starting left tackle in the team’s severe rebuild all along that front five, and the 2020 undrafted free agent out of Iowa did a really nice job against a Seahawks defense that threw all kinds of different fronts and games against him. Jackson allowed no sacks, no quarterback hits, and one quarterback hurry in 43 pass-blocking snaps, and he was pitch-perfect on Matthew Stafford’s three completions of 20 or more air yards
Both Nacua and Jackson should remain integral parts of the Rams offense for not just this season, but potentially years to come. And neither was a top draft pick; Nacua went in the fifth round and Jackson was undrafted in 2021.
Les Snead seems to have uncovered two gems for Los Angeles, something he’s done several times as the team’s general manager.