With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Cincinnati Bengals are continuing with pre-draft meetings.
The Bengals currently hold the 28th pick in the upcoming draft and have put themselves in position to select the “best player available” instead of feeling forced to take someone at a position of need.
Tight end has long been the popular projection for Cincinnati to go in Round 1, but they could wait until Round 2 to do so thanks to the signing of Irv Smith Jr.
Cincinnati reportedly met with Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Sam LaPorta, per Justin Melo of The Draft Network.
.@HawkeyeFootball TE Sam LaPorta is a premier prospect in the 2023 Draft.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 17, 2023
Top 30: #Panthers.
Workouts: #Cowboys, #Bills, #Dolphins. #Titans Pro Day meeting.
Virtuals: #Texans, #Seahawks, #Packers, #Bengals + more.@SamLaPorta x @TheDraftNetworkhttps://t.co/pRj7ROTIf3
LaPorta tallied 111 receptions for 1,327 yards and four touchdowns in 26 games over the past two seasons at Iowa.
The former Hawkeyes star is just 22 years old and has been consistently projected in the Round 2-3 range, so he could be a nice option for Cincinnati to consider after pick No. 28.
Sam LaPorta is a weapon. He lines up all over the formation from slot (112 snaps last year) to out wide. He has good hands and can run. (4.59)— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) April 10, 2023
He has great YAC (20 forced missed tackles) and is a willing blocker. He’s my TE 2 this year. #NFLdraft #NFLtwitter pic.twitter.com/d5uMTln40T
The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder tallied a 4.59 40-yard dash, 1.59 10-yard split, 35” vertical jump, and a 10’3” vertical jump at the 2023 NFL Combine.
Another elite @HawkeyeFootball TE on the way to the league?— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2023
Sam LaPorta making his case with a 4.59u.
: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork
: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/Sxdw1KDDQ5
NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein discussed LaPorta by saying: “Highly targeted tight end whose playing style and physical abilities land somewhere between a connected (in-line or wing) and move tight end. 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.”
Iowa has become a school known as “tight end U” in recent years with former Hawkeyes like George Kittle, TJ Hockenson, and Noah Fant making a splash in the NFL.
Could Sam LaPorta join the list of Iowa tight ends making an impact at the next level? Could the Bengals go with him in Round 2?
We will see on April 27-29 when the 2023 NFL Draft takes place.