TE6: Sam LaPorta (Iowa)
Height: 6-foot-3 1/4
Weight: 245 pounds
DOB: 1-12-2000 (23 years old)
The Iowa Hawkeyes have a history of sending tight ends to the NFL, and Sam LaPorta is the next one coming through the pipeline. He caught 50+ balls in 2021 and 2022 and surpassed the 648-yard plateau each season.
His production as a receiver is only the tip of the iceberg. LaPorta is a willing blocker and loves to get his nose dirty. The technique needs some refinement, as he can be caught off balance and fail to anchor in at times, but the effort he brings shows that he’s capable of improving.
Back to his pass-catching, LaPorta is one of the better route runners in the 2023 NFL Draft. He plays in-line primarily but took several snaps from the slot as well. LaPorta comes out of his breaks clean and is a deceptive YAC threat with the ball in his hands.
Speaking of his hands, that is where he could stand to improve the most outside of blocking. More times than not, LaPorta snags anything thrown his way, but his 11 drops the past two seasons are concerning, even if they can be chalked up to a lack of concentration.
All-in-all, LaPorta is a great tight end prospect. He will have a role as a rookie and should gradually become one of the best pass catchers at the position. The Iowa standout is worth a day-two selection any day.
NFL Draft Grade: Mid-to-Late Day 2
TE5: Tucker Kraft (South Dakota State)
Height: 6-foot-4 3/4
Weight: 254 pounds
DOB: 11-03-2000 (22 years old)
Similar to Zack Kuntz, there’s a chance you haven’t heard or seen much of Tucker Kraft. Well, you have roughly six months before he becomes a household name.
Kraft dealt with injuries in 2022, but his 2021 season was one for the record books for the Jackrabbits. He hauled in 65 receptions for 770 yards and six touchdowns, serving as the No. 2 option in the passing game.
Kraft is a solid route runner, but his best attribute is after the catch. Over half of his career yards came with the ball in his hands, using his impressive long speed and underrated shiftiness to abuse defenders downfield.
As a blocker, Kraft is not quite elite but he has the traits to be. A more consistent pad level and some NFL coaching on hand usage should help Kraft become an every-down contributor early in his career.
Kraft will improve the passing game for whatever team is lucky enough to land him. He plays hard, and his competitiveness jumps off the screen. As long as he can stay healthy, Kraft will be a decade-long starter in the league. He should go on day two.
NFL Draft Grade: Mid Day 2