The Green Bay Packers have their work cut out for them this offseason. Not only are they moving on from four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to former first round pick Jordan Love, they also have a wide variety of positional holes that they need to fill. Due to their salary cap situation, much of this will be done through the NFL Draft. One of their most desperate areas of need is at the tight end position.
While there are many mock drafts out there that see the Packers drafting a tight end in the first round, it should be noted that Green Bay has not taken a first round tight end since Bubba Franks in 2000. It is much more likely that they take one (or two) in the second round or later.
PFF Names Iowa Tight End Sam LaPorta as a Perfect Day 2 Fit for the Green Bay Packers
This year, the tight end class in the NFL Draft is very deep. For this reason, teams like the Packers can wait until after the first round and still get a tight end that could be an immediate impact player. Due to the fact that Robert Tonyan (Chicago Bears) and Marcedes Lewis (still unsigned) will not be back, it is fair to assume Green Bay will be picking a tight end early (just not in the first round). This being the case, Michael Renner of PFF named Sam LaPorta as the perfect Day Two pick for Green Bay:
“The Packers get the ball to tight ends in space often with the play-action game, and LaPorta led the draft class with 20 broken tackles on 58 receptions last season. That’s something Green Bay hasn’t had at tight end in a long time.”
LaPorta had 657 receiving yards and a single touchdown to go along with those 58 receptions.
In an earlier article ranking the top ten tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft, Renner ranked LaPorta fifth while writing:
“LaPorta is one of the best tight ends in the class with the ball in his hands. The Hawkeyes obviously knew this, as they fed him 10 screens on the year — a bit of a rarity for a tight end. He broke 14 tackles on 53 catches for 592 yards with a low 7.3-yard average depth of target. Don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t be a vertical threat, though. LaPorta has enough speed to stride past the linebacker level and create big plays in the passing game.”
If the Packers do end up drafting Sam LaPorta, it will be for his abilities as a receiving tight end. PFF gave him an 85.3 receiving grade in 2022, which was the seventh highest grade given to a collegiate tight end. However, LaPorta received low pass and run blocking grades (63.4 and 53.1 respectively). Keeping this in mind, he would be a great receiving weapon for Jordan Love and Matt LaFleur, but would limited by his poor blocking. This should not dissuade the Packers from drafting him, but it should be understood that he comes with some shortcomings in the blocking game.
To offset these shortcomings, the Packers could sign MyCole Pruitt, who has even better blocking grades than Marcedes Lewis. A blocking-first tight end, Pruitt would allow the Packers to draft LaPorta and/or other pass-catching tight ends to add as receiving weapons to the offense.
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