The tight-end class is deep and talented; we have a real sleeper option here. Sam LaPorta is a tight end with a ton of upside in his game and some untapped potential that has yet to be used. We’ll dive deep into LaPorta and why he is a must-own prospect for an NFL team and fantasy.
- College: Iowa
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 249 lbs
- Hand Size: 10 1/4″
- Age: 22
- Year: Senior
- Draft Projection: 2nd Round
High School And Personal Life
LaPorta played his high school ball at Highland High School in Illinois. He finished high school second-ranked in receiving touchdowns(50) and yards (3,793) in Illinois’ football history. LaPorta didn’t play tight end at the time either, as he was a receiver and defensive back in high school. He would go on to commit to playing his college football at Iowa.
LaPorta took time before he became a tight-end threat for Iowa. He only played six games as a freshman but would shine best during the bowl game vs. Southern California, as he had six receptions for 44 yards. His sophomore season was cut short because of Covid, but he saw more production and scored his first college touchdown. Those first two years, Iowa football was not good as LaPorta finished second in receiving yards among the team with 271.
LaPorta had a breakout junior season with 670 yards and three touchdowns. He led the team in receiving yards which were double that of the next closest pass catcher. LaPorta also shined big in the bowl game vs. Kentucky, as he had seven receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. During this senior year, he produced what he showed as a Junior. Laporta led the team in receiving yards again, doubling the next closest pass catcher. While he only saw one touchdown on the year, there were only seven passing touchdowns. He also played well enough in the bowl game to be trusted in big games, with five receptions from 55 yards.
Yards After Catch
One of LaPorta’s greatest strengths is his ability with yards after the catch. LaPorta has the athletic ability to produce yardage once he catches the ball. He averaged 31.1 yards after the catch, which was second in the class. His quickness and agility as a tight end significantly benefit him in forcing missed tackles to gain yards after the catch. LaPorta’s talent will shine for an NFL team with that ability to be a trusted weapon to make plays.
Another great ability of LaPorta is his route running. As a former wide receiver, LaPorta runs routes very well and can be lined up inline or in the slot. His route running will stick out to teams as the tight end position continues to evolve, allowing LaPorta to beat out linebackers and slower defensive backs. LaPorta isn’t an elite athlete but knows how to run his routes well to create separation.
Areas of Concern
One area of concern LaPorta needs to clean up to be successful at the NFL level is his hands. LaPorta shows great catching awareness, but his hands are inconsistent. He shows on film to make some tough catches outside his frame but also experiences making bad drops. He had too many questionable drops in college, with 14 in just three seasons. Some of that drops could be due to his next area of concern, but you saw on film some of those drops were catchable balls.
Strength in Catching
There are very few weaknesses in LaPorta’s game but one that shows in his blocking also indicates his catching. LaPorta has inconsistencies in contested catch situations where he can’t come down with the ball. When a big physical defender is linked to him and the ball, LaPorta isn’t as trustworthy in those situations. He also was ranked 10th in the class in contested catch situations. It is not a significant weakness but a strength issue that needs to be developed at the next level.
Projected Draft Capital & Role
LaPorta is currently projected in the second round of the NFL draft with the NFL Mock Draft Database. This TE class is very talented, and he will be one of those tight ends drafted early. He is slated for a team like the Dolphins, desperate for a tight end. He may, early on, serve as a number two TE for a couple of years before taking over the TE1 for them. If you look at the site, recently, you’ll see mock draft experts having LaPorta as a late first-round pick. If that happens, his value can skyrocket, and the team believes in his receiving value he brings.
Dynasty Rookie Value
LaPorta’s landing spot and draft capital will play a significant role in his dynasty’s value. Right now pre-NFL draft, he is, at best, a fourth-round rookie pick which is a bargain selection. If LaPorta lands in a favorable spot, he could see an early third-round rookie pick selection. LaPorta needs some time to grow as a complete tight end, but he has an upside. He has a top-five TE1 value in his future. Instead of taking one of the other tight ends early, if LaPorta falls in rookie drafts, I’m all over that.
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