After strong minicamp and OTA sessions, Detroit Lions rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has many wondering if he can make a big immediate impact, despite the long history of rookie tight ends only having a modest impact in their premiere seasons. Since 2000, only four rookie tight ends (Kyle Pitts, Jeremy Shockey, Evan Engram, and John Carlson) have surpassed 600 receiving yards in Year 1.
But George Kittle—arguably the best tight end in football—believes the future is extremely bright for the 22-year-old tight end.
“LaPorta is going to be fantastic,” Kittle said on a recent episode of the Pardon My Take podcast. “I think Laporta’s the best tight end in the draft class. I think (the) Lions got a complete steal. I like the other tight ends too, but I spent two weeks training with Sam LaPorta, and the way he moves—oh yeah, he’s got the dog (in him). He’s kind of quirky, he’s kind of goofy, too. He’s going to fit in well.”
Kittle went on to explain how, while training with him, LaPorta immediately passed the eye test.
“When you train with someone, whether it’s in the weight room or running routes with them, things I look for is when you’re running, do you have a forward lean? Can you get out and you’re still accelerating through 10 yards? Or do you stand straight up and you look like a brick wall moving slowly? A lot of people look like that, so he’s got a nice forward lean, and he’s got great hips, if we’re being honest.”
Of course, it’s important to point out here that both Kittle and LaPorta went to Iowa, so the All-Pro tight end may not be a completely impartial observer here. He certainly gave similar endorsements to T.J. Hockenson—although you could certainly argue he turned out to be a pretty good player, too.
Kittle tends to be a pretty open and honest person, though, and this isn’t the first time he’s given LaPorta his public approval. Back in May, he gave him a similar compliment, saying LaPorta is “gonna make some big plays this year.”
You can watch Kittle’s entire interview here, but the LaPorta conversation starts at the 1:13:20 mark.