NFL insider raves over Sam LaPorta, puts him in ‘upper-echelon of tight ends’

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It took Sam LaPorta only one season in the NFL to establish himself as one of the best tight ends in the league. The former Iowa star was one of Jared Goff’s favorite targets with the Detroit Lions in 2023, hauling in 86 passes for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns.

LaPorta was named a second-team All-Pro in 2023 and was also named to the Pro Bowl. ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler spoke on SportsCenter Saturday morning about LaPorta and where he ranks among NFL tight ends.

“You mentioned [Travis] Kelce, that’s the upper-echelon of tight ends. And this guy is there already,” Fowler said. “Every offseason I poll scouts and executives on top-10 players at each position. This guy is top three-to-four at that position already, right up there with Kelce and George Kittle, Mark Andrews, that tight end crew that is among the best.”

That is obviously incredibly high praise for Sam LaPorta, but he has proven that he deserves it. LaPorta was a big reason why the Lions advanced all the way to the NFC Championship Game this past postseason, before falling to the 49ers.

LaPorta is an excellent route runner, has great hands and has no problem doing the dirty work that is required for elite tight ends to do.

“Everything is natural and easy for him,” Fowler said. “Jared Goff loves tight ends. So he’s been working with him a lot this offseason. He typically targets Amon-Ra St. Brown as his No. 1. That will probably continue. But don’t be surprised if LaPorta is No. 2 in target share and all of that fun fantasy lingo that we love. He’s going to be right up there, for sure.”

Speaking of fantasy football, ESPN has released its position rankings for the upcoming season and Sam LaPorta is the top tight end in PPR leagues, according to ESPN.

It appears as though the Lions got a steal after drafting him in the second round, No. 34 overall, in the 2023 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie.

LaPorta spent four seasons at Iowa, prior to turning pro. He was named a finalist for the John Mackey Award in 2022. He was also a first-team All-Big Ten selection that season.

During his final year at Iowa, LaPorta caught 58 passes for 657 yards and one touchdown. He started all 12 games for the Hawkeyes.

Over the course of his college career, LaPorta made 32 starts and caught 153 passes for 1,786 yards and five touchdowns.

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