The Detroit Lions wowed some people around the league last year when they traded former first-round pick TJ Hockenson to the Vikings at the trade deadline. The question from there was “who is going to replace him?”
The Lions drafted Sam LaPorta in the second-round of the 2023 NFL Draft and it was apparent that he would be their guy. But the understanding was the same as it’s always been with every tight end that gets drafted.
This is going to take some time and we’ll see where it goes. Back in August we tallied up the totals of the previous 27 tight ends that were selected in the first two rounds of the draft and came up with an average of 30 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
LaPorta has taken that average and choke slammed it through a flaming table. Through 13 games, LaPorta has caught 64 passes for 679 yards and six touchdowns. This is not normal. This is superstar level stuff.
This is Pro Bowl this year type of stuff. This is All-Pro level stuff. This is Rookie of the Year stuff. A staggering number thought is the targets to catches.
Goff has targeted LaPorta 86 times and he’s caught the ball 64 of those times. LaPorta catches the ball 74% of the time that it’s thrown to him. Wait, I have more stat stuff. LaPorta is only the second Lions rookie tight end to produce a game with 120 plus yards and a touchdown. The other is TJ Hockenson.
LaPorta has already passed Hockeson’s 32 catch, 327 yard and two touchdown rookie year. He left that in the dust in like October. LaPorta is also tied for the second most five yard plus reception games by a rookie tight end.
There’s five games left. If LaPorta can do more of what he did against the Saints (nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown) he has a chance to set himself up with the best rookie year a tight end has had in NFL history.
That’s Bears legend Mike Ditka who caught 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns. He might not hit the 12 touchdowns mark, but if he can 80 yards per game in the next five games, he’ll have the record for most yards by a rookie tight end. He needs 18 more catches to break Keith Jackson’s record for most receptions as a rookie TE.
We’ll see where things go. Either way, he’s having one of the best rookie tight end seasons in the NFL’s 105 years of existence. This is just not normal.