Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta was taken by the Detroit Lions with the No. 34 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. LaPorta is the second tight end taken off the board and somewhat surprisingly goes over Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer. He is the second Iowa player to go to the Lions after linebacker Jack Campbell went in the first round.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have a storied history of producing viable NFL tight ends. George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, and Noah Fant are all contributing to that legacy at the moment. There’s a chance Sam LaPorta could be the next torch-bearer for “Tight End U.”
LaPorta was a bright spot for an Iowa offense that underachieved in 2022. The 6’3” tight end caught 58 passes for 657 yards and one touchdown across 12 games. That was nearly identical to his 2021 season, as LaPorta showed consistency as the top receiving option for the Hawkeyes.
TE Sam LaPorta: Scouting Report
LaPorta is a solid NFL prospect that could contribute right out of the gate. He doesn’t necessarily excel in any category, but there aren’t many weaknesses to his game either. LaPorta has proven himself as a legitimate run blocker with a high motor, and his highlights in the passing game are plentiful.
However, LaPorta measured at 6’3”, which is on the smaller side for a tight end. His straight-line speed is good, but he’s not overly athletic. While the Iowa prospect is NFL-ready, it’s hard to believe he has a high ceiling in the pros.
Mock Draft landing spots
LaPorta is projected to go to the Cowboys in the first round at CBS, drops to the Raiders in the third round at The Athletic, and lands with the Dolphins in the second round at NFL.com.
Fantasy football implications
LaPorta isn’t a guy who will step into a starting role and demand targets as a rookie. He should get snaps as a depth option at tight end, but it’s difficult to bank on that materializing any tangible fantasy value in 2023.
He would step into a Dalton Schultz-sized opening if he headed to Dallas, although if there are other tight ends left on the board at that point (Darnell Washington, Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid), I don’t see LaPorta beating any of them out. The tight end depth chart for the Cowboys is nothing special or particularly exciting, and LaPorta could absolutely work his way into getting a good amount of snaps in Year 1 and becoming a solid fantasy option.
At the Dolphins, he would be playing behind Durham Smythe. With Mike Gesicki gone, tight ends will have the opportunity to truly compete for snaps, and LaPorta could be a breakout second-round pick there if he fits in well with Tua and the Dolphins’ offensive scheme. It depends on whether his attributes will translate to NFL success, which is hard to predict after he played on a disastrous Iowa offense.