The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is in session, and earlier this week, Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel got a chance to meet with University of Iowa product Sam LaPorta.
LaPorta is a 22-year-old tight end who put together an impressive career with the Hawkeyes. He recently spoke about what it was like meeting McDaniel.
“I think he’s kind of goofy, likes to laugh and joke and tell stories,” LaPorta said Friday. “So that was pretty cool. To get to hear a couple of his stories and he heard a couple of mine too.”
The Illinois native sees himself as a “competitive blocker” and explained that his career at Iowa helped that aspect of his game.
“I think I’m a competitive blocker at the point of attack,” LaPorta said. “Playing in the Big Ten. Playing at Iowa, especially, we demand a lot from our tight ends. If you’re not going to block, you’re not going to be out there. So I think I’m competitive. You know, I’m 40 or 50 pounds lighter than some of these big defensive tackles or ends that I’m blocking. So maybe not devastating. But I definitely think competitive. I seem to win a lot with leverage and hand placement.”
He added that he wants to be a “locker room guy” and “great teammate” at the NFL level.
“I want to be a locker room guy,” LaPorta said. “I want to be a great teammate. I love being a part of a team. Just having those connections with your teammates and working towards a common goal.”
In addition to his blocking abilities and desire to be a great teammate, LaPorta is capable of making an impact in the passing game. Scouts reportedly see him as a “low-risk selection” in the upcoming draft.
“Scouts say LaPorta has required fluidity, instincts, ability to release and create separation,” wrote Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. “He is described as a low-risk selection.”
The prospect spoke about his ability to impact the game in multiple ways.
“I think I’m really versatile,” LaPorta said. “I was utilized a lot in our passing offense. I think I’m a developing blocker but still competitive. I have a long way to go. I think I’m an instinctive player. I always seem to be on the same page as the quarterback.”
The Dolphins don’t have a ton of selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they do have enough picks to fill in some gaps on their roster. With the team likely losing tight end Mike Gesicki this offseason, it would make sense for Miami to add some talent at that position in the upcoming draft.
LaPorta’s last two seasons at Iowa helped his draft stock a lot. In the 2021 season, he totaled 53 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. In the 2022 campaign, he had similar numbers, registering 58 catches for 657 yards and one touchdown in 12 games.
Iowa’s offense has been notoriously bad in recent seasons, but LaPorta was definitely a bright spot on that side of the ball for the Hawkeyes over the last couple of years.
He’ll be an interesting player to monitor for the Dolphins as the draft approaches. This year’s draft will take place near the end of April, beginning on April 27.