Skip to main content

Aaron Donald believes Rams WR Puka Nacua can go on to do things that have 'never been done' in NFL

Aaron Donald has ridden off into the sunset, but he still has his opinion on a Rams player destined to shine.

After seeing Puka Nacua's sensational rookie year up close and personal, the former Los Angeles defensive tackle recently sang the wideout's praises, claiming he can go on accomplish things that have never been seen before at his position.

"You see young guys that play and they fall off a little bit, but for him to stay as poised as he did through the whole season as far as, like, he became kind of a household name as a rookie and he didn't change," Donald said on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast. "He stayed the same person. He kept doing the same things every single week, bro, and it's like if he stays like that and he stays hungry and if he wants to be great, in my opinion, I think he can do some things that [have] never been done in this league. He's just got to keep working, but he was fun to watch. I really enjoyed watching him, all the awards he was able to surpass, and break records he was able to break as a rookie."

A three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year and eight-time All-Pro, Donald is greatness personified and a surefire Pro Football Hall of Famer, but this isn't a case of "takes one to know one" when it comes to Nacua's potential.

From humble beginnings as a 2023 fifth-round rookie, Nacua shot to superstardom last season for all to see.

And he's already ticked off a few boxes for feats unseen before in the NFL by setting the rookie record for both receptions and receiving yards with 105 for 1,486. He added six receiving touchdowns and also dabbled in the backfield with 12 carries for 89 yards.

His services were especially needed early, when Cooper Kupp missed the first month of the season due to a lingering hamstring injury, allowing Nacua to provide immediate validation for what Donald initially picked up on in July and August.

"You see a little glimpse of it at camp, but that's camp," Donald said. "I'm one of those guys, you've got to show me during game time. … From the first game, he was just consistent. Then the Colts game, we ended up going into overtime, he ended up making the game-winning touchdown for us. He's just been a consistent player since Day 1, and then he just got better and better and better. It's like, God, I didn't expect him to be, you know, the player he was this year. But in my opinion, to be honest with you, for any position, me personally watching, that's probably one of the best rookie performances from any position that I got the opportunity to watch."

Nacua emerged in Week 1 against the Seahawks with 10 catches for 119 yards, then built on that introduction with 15 catches for 147 versus the 49ers the following game. In the Week 4 contest Donald referenced, Nacua set a then-career high with 163 receiving yards while rescuing L.A. from a 23-point collapse by delivering a TD in overtime -- his first score as a pro.

He didn't need to carry the burden as much upon Kupp's return, but he still exploded at times, dropping 154 yards on the Steelers in October and riddling the Browns to kick off December with 105 yards and a score. Against the Saints in Week 15, he amassed 164 yards to reset his career high.

He was consistent, and consistently great.

Now, while the Rams deal with the hole left by Donald on defense, Nacua will be called on again along with Kupp and others to hold things together on an offense that rebounded in 2023 for an eighth-place finish in scoring.

If Nacua does so while setting new standards, his former teammate is already on record saying he saw it coming.

Related Content