A two-way prep player who moved from wide receiver to tight end in college, Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Sam LaPorta brings a blend of receiving chops and scheme versatility to the pros.
Coming from a school known for its tight end success, LaPorta set Iowa’s all-time record for career receptions and led his Big Ten positional mates in catches during the 2021 season.
Weight: 245 pounds
40 time: 4.59 seconds
LaPorta is primarily a “move” tight end who flexes into the slot and can fit many systems. The position is deep in this draft class, and he’s a top-50 prospect, according to most draft pundits.
Table: Sam LaPorta stats (2018-22)
*includes postseason/bowl games (stats from Sports Reference)
- Experienced in a pro-style offense but also can fit into multiple systems
- Natural hands-catcher who often had to go out of his way to reel in errant passes from substandard quarterback play
- Athletic movement traits to excel after the catch and create YAC
- Dangerous down the seam but also is adept at generating production on manufactured touches
- Demonstrates a nuanced understanding of route-running techniques through varied footwork, body lean, and head fakes
- Creates mismatches against slower linebackers and smaller safeties
- Aggressively attacks the ball in contested situations
- Displays spacial awareness vs. zone coverage and also near the sidelines
- Unrealized potential as a blocker if NFL coaches can finely tune his technique
- Boasts a nasty stiff-arm
- Lacks the size and strength to be an anchor in pass protection — the majority of his negatives stem from blocking deficiencies
- Wasn’t overly productive and racked up just five scores over 153 catches
- Has room to grow in terms of route tree development
Fantasy football outlook
LaPorta reminds of a former Iowa tight end from 20 years ago in Dallas Clark. Any team drafting him LaPorta will benefit from not trying to force him into a role he’s not meant to occupy. While LaPorta’s offerings for pro teams will increase as he improves as a blocker, thus keeping him on the field more, he’s at his best running routes in the middle of the field.
Expect a Round 3 draft placement to be his ceiling, but he should be off the board before the fifth round. He’d shine in a spread passing attack or a creative West Coast system, such as a variant of the Sean McVay or Andy Reid coaching trees. That said, rookie tight ends tend to struggle to make a difference in fantasy, so LaPorta probably will remain irrelevant during the 2023 season.