Lions Selection of TE Sam LaPorta Praised for ‘Rob Gronkowski Vibes’

Sam LaPorta

Getty Sam LaPorta makes a catch for Iowa in 2022.

The Detroit Lions had an early selection in the second-round of the 2023 NFL draft, and turned it into a solid prospect to help their offense.

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta was the selection at pick 34, and he joins an offense which placed fourth in the league in 2022 while also adding Jahmyr Gibbs on Thursday night during the first-round of the draft.

LaPorta has some major talent to rely on as he transitions to the league, and has flashed some major skills on the field. Perhaps his best highlight was pointed out by Scott Barrett, who showed LaPorta breaking tackles and showing his speed down the field, something that is pretty fun.

“Sam LaPorta is fun af. Here he is with a rare 5 missed tackles forced on one play,” Barrett tweeted.

How does LaPorta translate specifically? Josh Larkey pointed out that he likes the fact that he has a strong work ethic to join the Lions.

“I like the Detroit Lions selecting TE Sam LaPorta at Pick 34. 4.59 40-time (Kelce ran 4.61). 21%+ target share SO-SR year at Iowa. Scouts raved about his work ethic, should be a great pairing with Dan Campbell. Offers effort, but not much effectiveness, as a blocker,” Larky tweeted.

Not only should Lions fans like the fit of LaPorta, but his former coach Kirk Ferentz will as well. Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweeted about Ferentz’s discussions about what LaPorta brings to the mix.

“Kirk Ferentz said this in a morning session to talk about LB Jack Campbell: “…but my suspicion was a smart team might jump there into the first round and grab (Campbell). I felt the same way about our tight end Sam LaPorta, a very similar type of player,” Rogers tweeted after hearing Ferentz speak.

NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms likes LaPorta and, thinks he is a great route runner who can impact the play action game down the field with the pass, something that will help Detroit.

“Wow Sam LaPorta to the Lions is awesome. My second favorite TE in the draft!!! Great blocker great route runner. The Lions can run it and they have a great play action offense behind OC Ben Johnson,” Simms tweeted.

LaPorta himself was very happy to get back to the Lions, and as he said, joining the team linebacker Jack Campbell just joined is special to him as ESPN’s Eric Woodyard showed.

“Iowa TE Sam LaPorta on joining Lions: “I’m just going to try to add as much value as I can as quickly as I can.” LaPorta says he’s excited to be teammates with Jack Campbell again. He congratulated him last night. “I can’t wait to be back in the building with him again,” LaPorta said as shown by Woodyard’s tweet.

In terms of a comparison for LaPorta as he comes into the league, it could be interesting to note how much he looked like Rob Gronkowski, at least on one of his top plays in college to Mitch Fick of Iowa News Now.

“Here’s your new tight end, Detroit. Sam LaPorta with the Gronk vibes,” Fick tweeted.

If LaPorta could turn out half as good for the Lions as Gronkowski did, that would be a major win for Detroit. Already, it seems as if he is generating plenty of love.

Sam LaPorta’s College Stats & Highlights

Given the production the Lions enjoyed at tight end in the second half of the 2022 season, it wasn’t a stretch to proclaim that a spot of smaller need for the team.

Detroit, however, may have wanted to get better after making their big midseason trade and LaPorta could help them do that instantly. The tight end isn’t a prolific college pass catcher, having hauled in just five touchdowns and 1,786 yards in his career. He is gritty and tough as the tape shows, however.

LaPorta could also impact the game as a blocker, as most tight ends from Iowa translate well to the NFL. Names like Dallas Clark, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant have all done well in their transitions to the league, and LaPorta could be next in line.

Sam LaPorta Complement Lions’ Depth Well

With the other talent on the roster, was it a surprise to see the Lions prioritizing a tight end? Perhaps, because LaPorta will be joining a pretty stacked room.

In addition to LaPorta, the Lions also have Brock Wright, who came up with a game-winning touchdown vs. New York in 2022 and collected 216 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches last year. They also have Shane Zylstra still on the roster, who has proven he can fit what the team needs him to do.

James Mitchell was a fifth-round pick in 2022, and he managed to put up a decent 113 yards and one touchdown as a rookie. LaPorta will now round out this group, and give the Lions a potential top option at the position.

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