Watch out Travis Kelce — Lions rookie Sam LaPorta could be TE1 in the NFL soon

Sam LaPorta has been nothing short of special since arriving to the Detroit Lions. Now, before his rookie season even ends, LaPorta ranks high amongst his peers at tight end. Travis Kelce, you have competition.
Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta (87) makes a catch for a touchdown against Denver Broncos safety
Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta (87) makes a catch for a touchdown against Denver Broncos safety / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions sent shockwaves around the NFL Draft community with their selections on the first two days of the 2023 event. General manager Brad Holmes stuck to his vision, prioritizing quality players over positional value. That led to drafting Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell on Day 1 before following it up with Brian Branch and Sam LaPorta in Round 2.

Sam LaPorta Was A Phenomenal Selection At The 2023 NFL Draft

While all four have made varying degrees of impact as rookies, the last name has already broken into the realm of superstardom. LaPorta, a former Iowa Hawkeye standout, is becoming a household name around the league. The Lions rookie had 65 receptions, 702 receiving yards, and six touchdowns entering Week 15.

On Saturday night, LaPorta hauled in five passes from Jared Goff, good for 56 yards through the air. But that’s not all. The gifted tight end also found the end zone a whopping three times. He terrorized the Broncos' defense from the opening whistle and even made his presence felt in the run game multiple times.

LaPorta narrowly missed out on a highly-coveted first-round contract, but coming off the board at No. 34 overall is no small feat. Only Dalton Kincaid, a rising star in his own right, was taken before LaPorta at the tight end position. Holmes and Co. caught flack for their draft strategy, but with each passing week, they look smarter and smarter.

Could The Lions Employ The Best Tight End In The NFL Before Long? Travis Kelce, You Are Officially Put On Watch

Travis Kelce is 34 years old, and although he’s still the best tight end in the NFL, his reign atop the league could soon come to an end. Kelce is widely considered the best tight end of all time. He won’t give up his mantle without a fight. But Father Time stops for no man — especially one with a young, uber-talented player on his tail.

LaPorta has the size, speed, strength, and route-running chops to be the focal point of an offense. He excels with the ball in his hands and shows remarkable technique coming out of his routes.

At a position that typically comes with a steep learning curve, LaPorta has looked like a grizzled vet from Day 1. His performance in Week 15 further supports that statement. The good news for Lions fans? He’s just getting started.

The weapons in Detroit are exceptional. Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery spearhead a fearsome rushing attack. Amon-Ra St. Brown is amongst the best slot receivers in the NFL and has steadily improved each year in the league. But Sam LaPorta is the best of the bunch.

LaPorta Brings Value In Real Life, But He’s An Even Bigger Star In Fantasy Football

Not only will LaPorta be a fixture in the top tight end discussion for the next decade in real life, but he is set to be a fantasy football cheat code going forward. Those who were smart enough to snag LaPorta in the later rounds of their draft are likely in the playoffs and contending for a championship.

Next year, it will require a top-25 pick to land LaPorta in fantasy football. And for good reason. It’s rare to find someone who can succeed in every facet of the game.

The Lions were wise to use such a premium pick on their franchise pillar at tight end. Maybe Brad Holmes knows what he’s doing in Motor City after all.

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