In a recent interview on Barstool’s “Pardon My Take”, Detroit Lions’ rookie tight end, Sam LaPorta, found himself on the receiving end of high praise from one of NFL’s top tight ends, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. Kittle, an Iowa alumnus himself, labeled LaPorta as the best tight end in the draft class and lauded him as a complete steal for the Lions.
“LaPorta is gonna be fantastic…I think LaPorta is the best tight end in the draft class. I think the Lions got a complete steal…I spent two weeks training with Sam LaPorta and like, the way he moves…oh yeah, he’s got the dawg. He’s kinda quirky, he’s kinda goofy too. He’s gonna fit in well,” Kittle said on PMT.
Renowned for its development of NFL-ready tight ends, Iowa proudly adds LaPorta to its list of successful alumni. LaPorta expressed pride in following the premier Iowa tight ends, like Kittle, into the pros, saying, “It’s really cool to kind of be the next guy. I showed up as a freshman and I was just hoping I could sneak onto the field. Four years later I leave the University of Iowa and I feel I’m right up there with names like T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Clark, and Noah Fant.”
Sam LaPorta’s Rise in the NFL
LaPorta’s skillset extends beyond that of a traditional tight end. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs, LaPorta often dominated on the field, not just with his size and strength, but also with his pass-catching abilities.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. hailed him as “a receiver in a tight end’s body,” a characterization that certainly matches his impressive statistics of over 50 catches and more than 600 receiving yards in each of his last two seasons at Iowa. His record-breaking 153 receptions while at Iowa stand as a testament to his abilities
Lions quarterback Jared Goff recognizes this versatility and potential, saying:
He’s done a great job. He really has. Gets himself open. Able to separate, has great hands, is smart, is learning. Making rookie mistakes still but is getting a lot better and you don’t really see him make the same mistake twice, which is encouraging. But yeah, he’s done a hell of a job.
LaPorta’s rapid development and adaptation to the Lions’ offense has also caught the attention of head coach Dan Campbell. The coach shared that “Sam LaPorta has been impressive for a rookie, in terms of digesting the offense right now.”
Tight End University
The rookie’s eagerness to refine his skills is evident in his attendance at Kittle’s “Tight End University” this year. The camp, created by Kittle, Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce, and former NFL tight end Greg Olsen, hosts about 80 current and former NFL players in Nashville, Tennessee to learn from one another and refine their specialized tight end skills before the 2023 season begins.
With his impressive college record, the endorsement of seasoned pros, and the admiration of his new team, Sam LaPorta is certainly one to watch in the upcoming NFL season. As the Lions’ offensive weapon, he’s sure to add a sizzling dynamic to Ben Johnson’s offense. And if Kittle’s predictions are correct, we are about to witness a fantastic rookie season.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports