Power ranking top 5 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates

The 2023 NFL Draft Class did not waste any time making an impact on the field. With such a stacked class, who broke out amongst the rest?

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7)
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions
Second Round, 34th Overall

This year's NFL Draft was the year of the tight end. There was a smorgasbord of options for any team who needed one. Nine tight ends were selected in the first three rounds of the draft. Obviously, Dalton Kincaid was given the most publicity based on his draft position. He was the only one taken in the first round. Sam LaPorta was the next one taken, 34th overall, one selection ahead of Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer.

Many criticized the Lions' move. Not only did they go running back in the first round, but they took what many thought was the lesser tight end. LaPorta came from Iowa, where tight ends seem to grow on trees. Their system seems to make great tight ends, which sometimes makes it hard for them to translate to the NFL.

All the detractors are wrong. Sam LaPorta is not only the best tight end in this class, but it's not even close. LaPorta is third in rookie receiving, ahead of Rashee Rice, Tank Dell, and Zay Flowers. He has 250+ more yards than Kincaid, who's second among rookie tight ends.

LaPorta is going to get extra attention because of fantasy football. In many leagues, LaPorta has the most fantasy points of any tight end. He has more than Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Hockenson, and everyone else in the league. That's thanks to his nine touchdowns, three more than anyone in the league. He started fast with 22 receptions in his first four games, and he never really slowed down. Some might not want to admit it, but fantasy football results impact these types of conversations today.