Rookie Spotlight: Sam Laporta
By Cody Folden
Talk about a tough film session. Sam Laporta deserves to be Man of the Year for what he achieved in this Iowa offense this year. Tallying 58 receptions for 657 yards and 1 touchdown may not seem too exciting until you see who his quarterback was. Spencer Petras did not help him out with so many wrong reads and mistakes. It’s like Laporta’s coaching staff wasn't watching the game. We will dive into the film later and I will show you what I mean.
Luckily, for Sam Laporta, he tested very well at the scouting combine. With a 40-yard dash of 4.59 seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.59, as well as being exceptionally good at every other drill as well, he put himself in a prime position to be one of the top 5 tight ends taken in this draft. He should also be on your fantasy radar for some of the reasons below.
Sam Laporta had a surprisingly diverse route tree at Iowa. He can play in line, H back, and the X receiver all at a high level, and has some of the best footwork in the tight end class this year. His out and slant routes are exceptionally good. Many defenders in college underestimated the fact that Laporta is athletic. Just because he is a tight end doesn't mean he can’t hurt you down the field.
One of the better ones in the class again. Laporta does a good job when the defender is in front of him. When he gets overpowered he can sometimes get beat but it was never off the line of scrimmage that I saw this. Gaining some weight and securing his framework will clear the issues he has. With the issues he has though he still is one of the better ones in the class, you can really see the better technique and blocking in other years since he wasn't as big of a focal point.
When Sam Laporta is in space, he is a mismatch nightmare. When a linebacker, safety, and even some corners didn't respect him; he was a mismatch nightmare. He flew past people countless times to a quarterback never looking his way, and when he did it was an underthrow or behind him. That's what makes his stats even more impressive
Sam Laporta did have a problem this year when it came to contested catches. He sometimes did not get his hands up in time to be in a prime position to catch the ball when defenders were around him. When he gets knocked off his route and multiple defenders are closing in on him, he seems to have struggled with catching the ball.
This correlates with the contested catches con and the blocking aspect he needs to work on. He sometimes forgets he is a mammoth of a human at 6 foot 4 and 250 pounds. If he reminds himself that it will hurt the defenders when they have to tackle him and have to do it multiple times per game, he will be fine. That is tiring for defenses and then the fantasy relevance, for us, and the stats, for him, show up after the dirty work.
Player Comparisons: Noah Fant, George Kittle
Did I pick 2 other Iowa tight ends to compare him to? Yes. Is that lazy? Also, yes. Hear me out. Noah Fant at Iowa was a receiving mismatch that never got the chance to show that with Denver and with Seattle so far. Both of those teams need more traditional tight ends rather than an athletic one. Laporta is more traditional, but again, don't underestimate his athleticism. George Kittle is a better blocker than Sam Laporta but they are about the same when it comes to receiving. The best thing about both of them? They can do either and know their role
Sam Laporta is both Fant and Kittle. If Laporta can get on a team that will use him at his strengths and spread him around the field, we have a tight end that will be very good in the league, both real and fantasy.
I don’t usually pick the best statistical games for players to showcase their other attributes but in this case……….I chose his best statistical game because we actually need to show off how dominant he actually can be. You will notice in this game against Illinois that when he is contested it seems he is a little rattled but also when he is in space after a beautiful route, defenders underestimate his speed. Enjoy...
I wish Sam Laporta’s 9 reception game for 101 yards wouldn't have been wasted on a 9-6 outcome but here we are. Laporta dominated in every position he lined up in and showed that he can be a menace, hopefully with a competent coach and quarterback on the next level he can showcase that more in the stat sheet.
Kansas City Chiefs - Pairing Laporta with Patrick Mahomes, and Travis Kelce is always ideal. It was proven last Mahomes doesn't need a WR1 to get his stats as long as his safety valve Kelce and everyone else is doing their job. Travis Kelce is 33 and will turn 34 during this upcoming season. He will play as long as he can but they need to find another safety blanket. Noah Gray has had some chances and is a guy that can make that step but his route running is not as crisp and he isn't as fast as Laporta is. He would be a great mid-round addition to the Chiefs draft next week.
Los Angeles Rams - Tyler Higbee has been a reliable tight end option for Sean McVay and both Jared Goff and now Matt Stafford. He is turning 31 this football season and will probably not have as long a leash to play as Kelce does. Laporta could benefit from being in the same tight end room as Higbee. They need more talent to help the running game out and more options after Cooper Kupp and Higbee. Laporta could be that fit and McVay could thrive at running the ball and using Laporta, Higbee, and Kupp in play action. In my opinion, that is a nasty trio for Laporta’s rookie year.
Seattle Seahawks - For similar reasons as the Los Angeles Rams, and where his player comparison(Noah Fant) resides as a tight end. In a jam-packed room with Will Dissly, Fant, and Colby Parkinson. Something has finally got to give. Will Dissly, while good, can't stay healthy and isn’t reliable. Noah Fant is a good option but I think this is where Laporta could come in. Replace Fant with Laporta and run 2 TE sets with Parkinson, and Laporta you have a potent offense with all the other weapons we did not mention.
Green Bay Packers - Tight end is an obvious need for this team and if they trend as they have in previous drafts. They will not take an offensive weapon in the first round. With their best option at tight end Josiah Deguara. They need an upgrade. With a prove-it season at quarterback in Jordan Love, taking Laporta gets him another option with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to help him in the passing game. He will also be significant in the run game by helping create holes for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
Cody Folden joined the Dynasty Pros team in 2023. He plays in many dynasty leagues but dabbles in other leagues like devy, contract, and scouting leagues. He loves to dive deep into learning about prospects coming up through college and seeing them thrive when they get to the league.