ALLEN PARK — With the first of three second-round picks, the Lions selected tight end Sam LaPorta who played at Iowa, on Friday night with the 34th overall pick.
LaPorta will help fill the gap left when Detroit traded away tight end T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline last season. LaPorta joins Lions tight ends Brock Wright, James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra and Derrick Deese Jr.
“I’m going to try to add as much value as I can as quickly as I can,” LaPorta said during a media interview on Friday night where he was speaking from a draft party in his hometown of Highland, Ill.
Of Detroit’s first three picks, two are from Iowa including linebacker Jack Campbell.
LaPorta said he was repeatedly asked during the interview process which teammate he would like to take with him to the NFL and his answer was always the same: Jack Campbell. He said he shot Campbell a congratulatory note on Thursday night.
LaPorta met coach Dan Campbell, a former NFL tight end, at the NFL Combine. “I can’t wait to work for him … I can certainly learn from his journey,” LaPorta said.
LaPorta, who is 6-foot-3 and weighs 245, led Iowa in receiving in 2022 (58-657-11.3, one TD, 12 games) and won the Big Ten Tight End of the Year Award. He set the school record for tight ends with 153 career receptions.
Per his NFL draft prospect report: “LaPorta has the ability to threaten zone coverage and will make the basic catches. However, he lacks the desired elusiveness and ball skills to come away with the more challenging catches. LaPorta takes on run-blocking chores with inconsistent positioning, but has the potential to improve with more work in that phase of the game. His catch production is splashy, but he appears to have average-starter potential at the next level.”
LaPorta played in 12 games as a true freshman at Iowa in 2019 (15-188-12.5). He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection in 2020 after leading the Hawkeyes with 27 receptions (271 yards, 10.0 per, one TD) in eight games. League coaches voted him to the third team in 2021 as the team’s top receiver (53-670-12.6, team-high three TDs in 14 games).
LaPorta excelled at high school in Highland, Ill., catching the second-most touchdown passes in state history with 50 in his career.