Is Iowa TEU? Sam LaPorta Continues Iowa’s TE Factory in Playoffs With Detroit Lions

    Iowa's struggles on offense in recent years has overshadowed their development at the tight end positions. Are the Hawkeyes TEU?

    Kirk Ferentz is an Iowa Hawkeyes legend. However, his teams have not always been synonymous with offense innovation. They’re an old-school, slow-moving offense that limits possessions and keeps games low-scoring.

    Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have consistently produced elite talent at tight end. Sam LaPorta is the next big name to come from TE University. But the list goes well beyond that.

    Why Is Iowa the Tight End Standard?

    The argument certainly isn’t down to a consensus.

    Miami has produced names like Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham. Notre Dame probably has the best modern argument against Iowa, adding names like Michael Mayer, Kyle Rudolph, and Tyler Eifert (who was a monster before injuries). Stanford has produced a ton of talent resembling their mascot — they all seem to be 6’6″ or taller.

    But Iowa is the true standard. Dallas Clark, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and now LaPorta extend the tradition far past other schools.

    Since 1999, when Ferentz first started at Iowa, 12 of his tight ends have been drafted by the NFL. LaPorta’s swift ascension among NFL TEs might be the most impressive start to a career of the bunch.

    Sam LaPorta’s Incredible Rookie Season

    To put into perspective just how impressive LaPorta has been for the Lions this season, he’s one of only two rookies in league history to have at least 85 receptions, 850 yards, and 10 TDs.

    The other? Odell Beckham Jr.

    MORE: Top 10 Tight End Transfers 2024

    LaPorta also broke the rookie receptions record for the position, surpassing Keith Jackson’s record from 1988 (81).

    The Lions’ rookie finished with 86 receptions, 889 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He trails only Mike Ditka and Kyle Pitts for receiving yards at the position as a rookie. And unless Jared Goff suddenly disappears from the Lions’ roster, fans don’t need to worry about LaPorta disappearing from the offense like Pitts did in Atlanta.

    Amon-Ra St. Brown is the No. 1 in Detroit, and he does some of his best work from the slot and over the middle of the field, where Goff is an assassin. LaPorta is a perfect complement to St. Brown and the Lions’ offense.

    LaPorta commanded 120 targets this season for Detroit, while St. Brown notched 164. That’s nearly double Josh Reynolds, who was the third-highest targeted non-RB with 64 targets.

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