With their third selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta at 34th overall.
The depth of this tight end class was constantly talked about during the pre-draft process, and the run on the position began the instant Day 2 of the draft got rolling. It was known that LaPorta met with the Lions at the NFL Combine, and he obviously made quite the impression during his interview.
“I walked in there and immediately hit the tape,” LaPorta recalled during his press conference. “I started learning a new play call. And after I learned a new play call for about five minutes, they jumped into some of my tape, and then at the very end of the meeting, we came back to the play call and I had to remember all the splits of the receivers, tight ends, what routes were they running. Very small details as the routes and it was interesting.”
Like the Lions’ 12th overall draft pick Jahmyr Gibbs, LaPorta’s game is almost tailor-made for today’s NFL. At 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds with a 4.59 40-yard dash time—LaPorta is going to be another chess-piece offensive coordinator Ben Johnson can deploy all over the field. Despite being a big guy, LaPorta has a lot of wiggle to him once he has the ball in his hands, forcing a lot of missed tackles. This makes him a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Too big for most nickel cornerbacks, and too fast for the vast majority of off-ball linebackers. Pairing him with fellow tight ends James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra, and Brock Wright gives the Lions a well-rounded room of players with varying skill-sets at the position.
Let’s get into some highlights and interviews of LaPorta’s time at Iowa.
Sam LaPorta played out wide more than any other TE in this draft class.— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) April 28, 2023
Where do you think he gets drafted? pic.twitter.com/o9RjA2Nfcm
I have fallen in love with Sam LaPorta.— Luke Grant (@LukeGrant7) April 26, 2023
He wins at the stem is a MULTITUDE of ways:
1. Beats man with COD and footwork at the top of the route.
2. Can be physical, without pushing off.
3. Wins to the inside but pushes the route vertical, to get more separation at the break pic.twitter.com/iImfq1cnof