CBS Sports labels Sam LaPorta one of the most important NFL Divisional Round rookies

Iowa Hawkeyes tight ends seem to shine when the lights are brightest. They do it in Kinnick Stadium wearing black and gold and carry that same level of play to the NFL.

Sam LaPorta, the Detroit Lions’ rookie tight end, has not just carried over his play from Iowa, but built upon it. The 6-foot-3, 245 pound former Hawkeye has quickly morphed into one of the NFL’s premier tight ends in just his rookie year.

His play, and improving health after suffering an injury in the regular season finale, have him among some of CBS Sports’ most important NFL rookies for this weekend’s Divisional Round games.

As long as Amon-Ra St. Brown is on the field, the Lions offense is dangerous. But LaPorta has been Jared Goff’s safety valve for much of 2023, and another week removed from injury, he should be even more involved in Detroit’s passing game. – Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

Sam LaPorta is near the top in all major statistical categories for tight ends. He has 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 10.33 yards per catch, he is a clear favorite for quarterback Jared Goff as a walking first down and ideal red zone target.

The Lions won their first playoff game in 32 years with a thrilling 24-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round. Next is another home playoff game as the Lions welcome in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. CT.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire