The Detroit Lions added two explosive offensive weapons early in the draft this year with first-round pick (12th overall) RB Jahmyr Gibbs and second-round pick (34th overall) TE Sam LaPorta.
While rookie expectations should always be somewhat tempered, the Lions staff has already said several times that they believe both of these players are capable of making an early impact in their young NFL careers.
“One of the reasons why we drafted LaPorta (was) because we think he can handle a lot,” coach Dan Campbell said last week. “We think he’s got versatility. Physically, he can do a little bit of everything, but also mentally, he’s pretty sharp for a rookie. Now he’s got growing pains. He’s already gone the wrong way a couple of times, but that’s going to happen. But we think this guy is—that he’ll be able to pick this up pretty quick as he gets reps. So, we’re pretty hopeful that this guy can come on sooner than later.”
That said, as we outlined after the Lions drafted T.J. Hockenson, rookie tight ends tend to put up very modest numbers in their first year. Hockenson followed that trend by only putting up 32 catches for 367 yards—albeit in an injury-shortened season.
Is there a chance LaPorta breaks that trend, as Dave Birkett recently suggested? And how will his production match up against Gibbs?
Myself and Erik Schlitt discussed this topic on this week’s Midweek Mailbag podcast. Here’s part of that discussion:
Jeremy: “I am not thinking that Jahmyr Gibbs is going to be a 40-catch guy. I think he’s going to be closer to an 80-catch guy. That doesn’t mean he’s going to have 10 yards per pop. He’s not going to have 800, 900 yards necessarily, but the 600, 700-yard mark I think is very much within his reach.”
Erik: “We went into this (offseason) thinking maybe Sam LaPorta was a nice upgrade, but then it’s like, ‘Hey, Cincy had him as a top-two guy. Hey, Dallas had him as (TE) number one. Hey, he kinda beat up Jack Campbell in rookie minicamp.’ He looks more ready than I think what we were expecting, and that’s what (the Lions) are preaching, too. The Lions coaches are all saying, ‘We got him because he’s ready to go.’ If he is, if he’s ready to go, this is an explosive offense and he’s already doing things that he maybe we didn’t expect him to do, I wonder if we’re sleeping on him a little bit, and maybe he is this guy that does beat the rookie curve.”
You can hear that entire discussion around the 8:45 mark in the podcast below.
Other topics this week:
- Which mid-round pick is most likely to make the biggest 2023 impact: Ifeatu Melifonwu, James Mitchell or Derrick Barnes? (2:00)
- What kind of schematic changes can we expect in 2023? (14:00)
- Who will be the true No. 1 cornerback in Detroit: Emmanuel Moseley or Cameron Sutton? And does the CB1 designation really even matter anymore? (23:20)
- Do the Lions have proper successors at offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator? (27:45)
- Who has the better season: Justin Fields or Jordan Love? (34:00)
- Are the Chicago Bears getting overhyped? (40:00)
Listen to the entire show below:
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