The Detroit Lions basically declared hey'd take a tight end in April's draft, then they did so pretty early by taking Sam LaPorta 34th overall. He'll have to earn the starting role, but he's clearly the most talented tight end on the team. It will hard to keep him off the field if he's healthy, and he doesn't absolutely fall on his face during training camp and the preseason.
In a broader sense, there is a nice opportunity in front of LaPorta to have a large role in a good Lions' offense right away. He's also got a skill set that could unlock something in the offense.
But the list of rookie tight ends who've had big seasons, such as we take a brief fantasy tilt, is not long. On the whole, however, this year's deep rookie class of tight ends could have a few guys buck that trend.
Detroit Lions: Will Sam LaPorta be the best rookie tight end in the NFL this year?
Chad Reuter of NFL.com has LaPorta as the tight end in his NFL All-Rookie Team projection for the offensive side of the ball.
"LaPorta can be Jared Goff's safety valve when defenses key on Amon-Ra St. Brown. The second-round pick scored just five touchdowns in four seasons at Iowa, but Goff threw 12 touchdowns to tight ends in 2022, so I expect LaPorta to see plenty of red zone targets this year."- Chad Reuter, NFL.com
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports went along the same line, and a little further?, to predict LaPorta will be the most productive rookie tight end in the NFL this year. Over Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, Luke Musgrave, etc.
After outlining the Lions' pass catcher situation, Trapasso got right to the point.
"In other words -- there's opportunity galore for LaPorta in Year 1. He is a thick, dynamic athlete with George Kittleian attributes after the catch. For real. LaPorta will be the most productive rookie tight end in a blast of an offense in Detroit this season. "
Situation/opportunity have LaPorta lined up to potentially outdo all his rookie tight end peers this year. It's up to him to fulfill the potential, but the signs up to this point are all positive.