4 tight end draft prospects the Carolina Panthers should monitor in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Jaheim Bell
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Jaheim Bell /
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Carolina Panthers
(Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via IMAGN Content Services) Sam LaPorta /

Carolina Panthers should monitor Sam LaPorta

The Iowa Hawkeyes by many are considered “TEU” for their recent success in producing NFL-caliber tight ends. This is a program that has brought along big names such as George Kittle, Noah Fant, and T.J. Hockenson, all of whom have made a splash since entering the league.

The Carolina Panthers are a team that might consider continuing that trend.

Iowa’s offense last season was…underwhelming, and that’s putting it lightly. However, the Hawkeyes enjoyed a healthy and productive season from their starting tight end, Sam LaPorta.

Entering his senior year, the 6-foot-4, 249-pound tight end was one of the Hawkeyes only sources of production for an offense that was one of the worst in the entire FBS. LaPorta led the team in both receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Could you imagine his production if he played for a team such as Clemson or another big school?

As was the case for his predecessors, LaPorta was utilized as an in-line TE with plenty of snaps as a big slot on passing downs. He is always competing as a blocker in the run game and pass protection while maintaining consistent leverage at the point of attack. Though, the prospect could become a better blocker overall by adding more functional strength to his frame.

In the passing game, the Illinois native is an impressive route runner. LaPorta’s breaks are quite sharp and offers a good understanding of where to hit his landmarks at all levels of the field.

I was impressed with LaPorta’s ball skills, as well. Again, while he isn’t the strongest player- especially at the catch point in contested situations, he offers a good catch radius, adjusts to the location of the ball well, and his hands are strong and firm.

With another productive season for Iowa and additional growth, I could see LaPorta entering the Senior Bowl in late January as one of the top tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft. This is certainly a player Panthers fans should monitor this upcoming season.