The Detroit Lions began Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft by taking tight end Sam LaPorta with their first second-round pick. While taking a tight end wasn’t much of a surprise for Detroit, some questioned whether LaPorta—just the second tight end taken in the draft—was the best option still available in the draft.
Well, thanks to an interview with Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor, we know the Lions weren’t the only team thinking LaPorta was worthy of being selected so high.
“There were certainly some tight ends that we had some regard for. They got picked off pretty (quickly). Those first two, we really liked and they went with the 26th pick probably and 35th pick, I think, to Detroit,” Taylor said on the Bleav in Bengals podcast. “Those were two really good players that I think would have really helped us, but, again, we’re happy to not reach, because we felt good about the group that we had.”
Note: Dalton Kincaid went 25th to the Bills, Sam LaPorta went 34th to the Lions. Missed it by that much, Zac.
Unless they were going to trade up, the Bengals didn’t have a shot at Kincaid, as their first pick was at 28th overall. They could have taken LaPorta with that selection, and Taylor’s words likely suggest he was under consideration there. However, they went with Clemson edge defender Myles Murphy instead, who fills just as pressing of a need for them.
That said, tight end was also considered a pretty high need for Cincinnati. Unfortunately for them, they missed out on the rush of tight ends in the second round. Not only did LaPorta go with pick 34, but Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer went with pick 35, Luke Musgrave went to the Packers at 42, and Luke Schoonmaker went to Dallas at 58—all before the Bengals’ next pick at 60.
Given that tight end run, it stands out that Taylor only pointed to Kincaid and LaPorta as the two they felt they really missed out on. At the very least, it points to the fact that LaPorta was a top-two tight end on their board, and, again, it could mean he was under consideration with their 28th pick, even if Taylor said he was happy they didn’t reach.
LaPorta was a highly-productive player out of the tight end factory that is Iowa. He leaves the program as their leader in receptions for a tight end and an incredibly athletic profile that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will use to its full potential.
This is further proof that the Lions got a player who was highly thought of by many draft analysts, and if LaPorta’s performance in rookie minicamp is any indication, we’ll all see that talent manifest itself on the field very soon.