Mock Draft Roundup: Jacksonville Jaguars add a safety valve at No. 88
By Beau Adams
The countdown is on to the 2023 NFL Draft and we are just a few short days away. The stakes are tremendous as teams across the NFL will strategically try to secure the next great talent to take them to the Super Bowl.
As a result, it's the day the lives of 261 young men will change forever as the culmination of their young life's hopes, dreams, and hard work pays off. Yes, I'm talking about draft day.
Nine of those 261 lucky young men will travel to Duvall County, Fla, to become Jacksonville Jaguars. In this mock draft breakdown, we are looking at who could be the 88th player selected and the third heading to Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Jaguars should select Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta.
Sam LaPorta was a three-star wide receiver recruit from Highland High School in Illinois. His only big collegiate offer from a top school was Iowa.
LaPorta knew what he had to do which was bulk up. He beefed up his 6'3 frame from a 190-lb wide receiver to 245 lb and began his journey to the NFL as a tight end.
Iowa is known as the NFL's tight-end training center, producing top NFL tight ends year after year. With names like; Dallas Clark, Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson, and George Kittle, LaPorta knew adding size to his natural pass-catching ability could take him to the NFL promise land.
LaPorta Played 46 games in his four seasons at Iowa, racking up 153 catches for 1,786 yards. That ranks him 1st among tight ends at the illustrious school in receptions and second in yards.
That is an outstanding accomplishment and should open the eyes of scouts and GMs across the league.
Despite adding 50 pounds to his high school frame, he checked in to the NFL Scouting Combine at 6 foot 3.5 inches and 247 lbs which are still considered small for a tight end.
However, his size should not be concerning. He is just a fraction of an inch shorter than fellow Iowa alum and elite NFL tight end George Kittle.
Despite his lack of size, he scored an 86 in athleticism on his NFL draft profile which is good for third among this year's crop of tight ends.
He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash with a 1.62-second 10-yard split, a 10-foot-3 broad jump, and a 35-inch vertical jump. Kittle's combine stats were almost the same across the board. Where they differentiate is in LaPorta's production score.
Production score measures the prospect's NFL readiness and technical proficiency. LaPorta has a production score of 72 to Kittle's 66.
So, to sum up, Sam LaPorta is the same size, speed, and athleticism as George Kittle but more proficient and NFL-ready. I guess that's why he caught more receptions for more yards at Iowa than Kittle.
The Jaguars need a versatile pass-catching tight end and Trevor wants a reliable safety valve for the foreseeable future. Evan Engram is on a franchise tag and it does not look like he will be in Jacksonville after next year.
While Detroit, Green Bay, and the Jets all are looking for a tight end in the draft and having four picks between them in the top 20, Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer will be off the big board by Jaguar's 24th-overall selection.
LaPorta is the Jaguar's best option and they could wait to grab the next George Kittle in the third round.