As the NFL season winds down, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL draft scouting reports before the combine in March. Here’s a look at Sam LaPorta.
2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Sam Laporta (TE – Iowa)
6’4″ – 249 lbs.
Played wide receiver and defensive back in high school, converting to tight end in college. Caught 15-188-0 (12.5) and 27-271-1 (10.0) in his first two seasons, then broke out to the tune of 53-670-3 (12.6) as a junior and had a similarly-productive senior year of 58-657-1 (11.3).
Has been highly productive over the past two seasons for one of college football’s most respected tight-end factories. Does a little bit of everything; lines up as an H-Back, inline and often standing up in the slot or tight to the formation. Was asked to execute various blocking assignments, showing a strong motor and impressive range to hunt down defenders. Functional/anchor strength is above average for a player with his frame. Smooth accelerator who’s fast enough to create opportunities on over routes or down the seam; runs a pretty high proportion of his patterns at the intermediate level. Pretty crisp route-runner who shows attention to detail at the route stem to create separation. Dips his shoulder to avoid being disrupted by contact when opponents sit in zone. Good toughness and contact balance to stay on track through the route. Uses his size to shield defenders from the ball and shows the ability to catch away from his frame. Good sideline awareness and body control when targeted near the boundary. Physical and elusive after the catch; works hard to rack up yards after contact and can be a handful to bring down.
Overall size is just adequate, and still needs to add additional bulk to his frame. Technique as a blocker is a little bit below where it should be, given that he’s a senior from one of the most well-coached programs in college football. Can occasionally struggle to line up opponents in space, tending to overrun some spots. Doesn’t shy away from contact but lapses into throwing his body around at times; would like to see him engage with form and improve his overall hand placement. Has a tendency to play outside his frame at times and can be caught lowering his head or bending at the waist. Settles down into coverage when working against zone. Occasionally struggles to come down with contested catches or through contact. Doesn’t present quite as big a target as some of the other tight ends in the draft class.
A player who’s been a weapon in the passing game over the past two seasons, he has the athleticism and route-running skills to reprise that role at the pro level. He has the functional strength, range and toughness to develop into an adequate blocker if he cleans up his overall balance and positioning.
Projection: Rounds 4-5