Sam LaPorta, TE
School: Iowa | Conference: Big 10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6’4” / 249 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Rounds 3-4
Player Comp: Hayden Hurst
The number of high quality tight ends that Iowa has produced in recent years is truly impressive: George Kittle, TJ Hockenson, and Noah Fant, and Sam LaPorta looks like a name that will probably be added to that list in the next couple of years.
In a testament to both LaPorta’s ability, and perhaps the weakness of Iowa’s offensive weapons overall, in both 2021 and 2022 LaPorta was the top receiver on the team. In 2022, LaPorta - one of the Hawkeye’s captains - was named as Iowa’s MVP a year after being given the “team hustle” award.
LaPorta was also named the 2022 Big 10 tight end of the year, and was a Mackey Award - given to the top college TE - finalist alongside potential first round pick Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) and sophomore Brock Bowers (Georgia), the eventual winner.
In a draft class that is one of the deepest in recent years, LaPorta’s skillset could end up resulting in him being a Day 3 steal.
- Already an accomplished run blocker.
- Former wide receiver.
- Has very good hands and route-running ability.
- Can break tackles effectively once he has the ball in his hands.
- Could improve his contested catch game.
- Not a top end athlete.
- Needs to improve play strength a bit.
Let’s See His Work
Watch how long LaPorta holds his block on this TE Delay. That's selling a block lol pic.twitter.com/6OV29O4jl9— Due# (@JDue51) December 5, 2021
PFF Run Block Grades:— Durst (@DurstNFLDraft) February 14, 2023
1.)Michael Mayer: 82.1
2.)Darnell Washington: 81.1
3.)Josh Whyle: 69.5
4.)Dalton Kincaid: 62.2
5.)Luke Schoonmaker: 60.2
6.)Sam LaPorta: 54.6
7.)Luke Musgrave: 54.3
8.)Payne Durham: 51.5
9.)Marshon Ford: 51.1
10.)Cameron Latu: 50.0
Slot and Split Wide % pic.twitter.com/eXjdxfCPRk
How He Would Fit
In each of the past two seasons, Washington has drafted tight ends on Day 3 (John Bates (2021) and Cole Turner (2022)), after having gone 3 years without having drafted one. That’s a step in the right direction, and while Washington’s tight end room has plenty of potential, the 2023 draft represents - because of its depth - an excellent place to grab a high-ceiling addition at a relative bargain.
I would avoid a Michael Mayer or a Dalton Kincaid, who are going to be too costly for Washington to reasonably draft, and instead focus on a player like LaPorta who already has a well-developed blocking skillset and is also a plus wide receiver. A player of LaPorta’s eventual caliber could be exactly what Eric Bieniemy is looking to add to his offensive quiver.
As an additional note, how about we target Iowa’s former tight ends coach - and current offensive coordinator - Brian Ferentz as a replacement for Juan Castillo?
In what round would you draft Sam LaPorta?