It's safe to say Sam LaPorta has been what the Detroit Lions hoped he'd be, and probably more. He's been setting or approaching rookie records for a tight end virtually on a weekly basis, and you know it's been good when a two-touchdown game in Week 5 was also the game he had season-lows for catches and targets.
LaPorta is in line to to start doing notable things in the context of any tight ends for a season, not just rookies. But let's keep the focus on rookie tight ends, for now.
LaPorta's 25 receptions are the third-most for a tight end in the first five games of career, behind Keith Jackson (29; 1988) and Jordan Reed (26; 2013). His 289 receiving yards leads all tight ends so far this season, and his three touchdowns are tied for the most.
In Lions' history, LaPorta is the first rookie tight end to have multiple 30-plus yard catches since Jim Gibbons in 1964. In more recent rookie tight end history for the Lions, he's already close to T.J. Hockenson's numbers in 2019 (32 receptions for 367 yards and four touchdowns-12 games).
Sam LaPorta in line to push toward season-long records
LaPorta is on pace, which is always a slippery slope to go down, for 85 receptions, 983 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. H/t to Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire, here's where those numbers would put him in context of Lions and NFL history.
Rookie Tight End Reception Record
- Keith Jackson, 81 receptions in 1988 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Rookie Tight End Receiving Yards Record
- Mike Ditka with 1,076 receiving yards in 1961 for the Chicago Bears
Rookie Tight End Receiving Touchdowns Record
- Ditka with 12 receiving touchdowns in 1961 for the Chicago Bears
Lions Rookie Records
- Amon-Ra St. Brown, 90 receptions in 2021
- St. Brown. 921 receiving yards in 2021
- Roy Williams, eight receiving touchdowns in 2004
LaPorta is also the TE1 in fantasy football through Week 5, crushing an easy narrative along the way.
Any way you slice it for a rookie tight end in recent history, and possibly ultimately for any tight end in the NFL this season, LaPorta is standing out. An opportunity was clearly in front of him the moment he was drafted, and he's delivering big-time.