A good part of what made Puka Nacua’s record setting rookie season with the Los Angeles Rams so special was the fact that he wasn’t selected until the fifth round, 177th overall in the 2023 NFL draft.
With one season of data in the books, how much higher in the draft might Nacua have been picked if NFL teams could have a do-over?
Earlier this week, ESPN carried out such a thought exercise, as they “redrafted” the first two rounds (63 picks) of the 2023 draft, and Nacua went No. 4 overall to the Indianapolis Colts instead of former Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (who was redrafted at No. 2 overall to the Houston Texans).
“Bryce Young (the real-life No. 1 pick who dropped to No. 11 in the redraft) is worth considering, but Nacua is more of a sure thing,” Stephen Holder wrote.
“He would give the Colts an elite skill player to pair with their eventual franchise quarterback — whenever they finally land one. Nacua broke the NFL’s single-season rookie record for receiving yards (1,486) and receptions (105).”
Elsewhere, former Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid rose up a few slots in the redraft from where he was actually picked.
Kincaid, who went No. 25 overall to the Buffalo Bills in the real draft, went No. 21 to the Los Angeles Chargers in the redraft (many at the time predicted the Chargers would draft him).
“Kincaid, who broke the Bills’ record for most receptions by a rookie (73), would have given the Chargers a player ready to contribute in a season in which they needed it,” Kris Rhim wrote.
C.J. Stroud, who won the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award over Nacua on Thursday night, went No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers in the redraft after being taken No. 2 overall in the real 2023 draft by the Texans.
The third overall pick remained the same, with Will Anderson Jr. (who won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award) also going to the Texans after a trade with the Arizona Cardinals.