Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa: 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta will add his name to the already extensive list of Iowa tight ends in the NFL. Here is why he is such an intriguing prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft.


Name: Sam LaPorta

Position: Tight End

School: Iowa

Height: 6-foot-3 1/4

Weight: 245 pounds

2023 NFL Draft Combine Numbers 

40-Yard Dash: 4.59 seconds

Vertical Jump: 35 inches

Broad Jump: 10-feet, 3 inches

3-Cone Drill: 6.91 seconds

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.25 seconds

Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa: 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Sam LaPorta was an unheralded prospect coming out of Highland High School in Illinois. He was rated as the 1,174th best player in the country and 55th tight end by 24/7 Sports. Unsurprisingly, LaPorta amassed few offers from division one programs.

The three schools that deemed LaPorta worthy of a scholarship were Central Michigan, Bowling Green, and Iowa. LaPorta ultimately chose Iowa City to be his next home, and quickly established himself as the next great Hawkeye tight end.

Despite going under the radar as a recruit, LaPorta quickly rose the ranks on the Hawkeye offense in 2019, cracking the lineup as a true freshman. A feat that not even former Hawkeye greats T.J. Hockenson or George Kittle accomplished.

LaPorta entered the 2020 season at the top of the tight end depth chart and was expected to be a focal point of the Hawkeye offense. However, the COVID-19 shortened season, and a lack of chemistry between LaPorta and starting quarterback Spencer Petras, led to an underwhelming season for the tight end.

But 2021 told a different tale. Petras and the Hawkeye offense struggled as a whole, but it was to no fault of LaPorta. In fact, he might have been the only skill position player who truly flourished on Iowa’s offense, taking in 53 passes for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

LaPorta opted to return to Iowa City for his senior season, where he once again shouldered the load of responsibilities for the abysmal Hawkeye offense. Just like in 2021, the Hawkeye offense was inept, and LaPorta was quite good, recording 58 catches for 657 yards and one touchdown in his final collegiate season.

LaPorta left Iowa as one of the best tight ends of the Kirk Ferentz era and one of the few productive offensive players during his time.


While the Iowa Hawkeye offense was putrid and, at times, unwatchable during LaPorta’s career, his ability to overcome the poor scheme and quarterback play shows that he is far from a situation-dependent prospect

Additionally, LaPorta’s role in the offense showed that he could thrive as a high-volume target. He drew a lot of attention from opposing defenses and was still able to regularly create separation from defenders.

LaPorta moves very well for the tight end position. He had good testing numbers at the 2023 NFL Draft Combine, and those scores match up perfectly with the tape. Being a shorter tight end makes LaPorta a much smoother mover than many others in the class. His speed and change of direction make him a threat after the catch.

LaPorta’s agility also makes him a sufficient route runner. Iowa’s archaic offense may have limited LaPorta’s route tree, but his overall movement skills and understanding of leverage should allow him to branch out at the next level.

When put in space and given time to build up speed, LaPorta seldom goes down on first contact. He can be both powerful and fast, which can be a devastating combination in the open field.


Iowa’s offense mostly featured shorter, quick-developing passes, which allowed LaPorta to make many uncontested catches. However, when asked to come down with contested catches, he struggled.

This at least partially explains the five total touchdowns on 153 career receptions, as LaPorta’s inability to win at the catch point limited his red zone targets.

Unlike the prototypical Iowa tight end, LaPorta’s run blocking is far from optimal. Some have speculated that his smaller frame for the position hinders him here, but there is also just a lack of feel.

LaPorta also had a relatively high drop rate in 2022. While much of this can be attributed to his quarterback’s inability to throw with touch, it is still a major area for improvement at the next level.

As previously mentioned, LaPorta isn’t the massive, physically intimidating tight end that some teams want. His smaller stature will likely limit his versatility as a blocker at the next level, and may stop him from playing on as many running downs.

Final Thoughts

The NFL has undergone a transformation in recent years due to the rise of the air raid offense. Front and center of this change has been the tight end position. Once an afterthought in the passing game, athletic, rangy tight ends have become an integral part of the modern NFL offense.

Sam LaPorta is the perfect embodiment of this shfit. What he lacks in size he makes up for with his speed and ability to force missed tackles. While LaPorta’s jump-ball ability is still a work in progress, he has the right skill set to be an impact player in today’s NFL.