Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Michael Mayer was drafted 35th overall by the Raiders. What did his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report look like, and how has he fared as a rookie?

An almost unchallenged TE1 contender coming into the 2022 college football season, former Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer was drafted 35th overall by the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2023 NFL Draft. With Mayer now the starting tight end in Vegas, let’s reflect on his scouting report coming out of college and project how his rookie season will go.

Michael Mayer NFL Profile

  • Position: Tight End
  • Team: Las Vegas Raiders
  • Stats: 15 targets, 10 catches, 129 yards

Mayer was rarely involved in the passing game until a Week 6 breakout game against the New England Patriots. Mayer finished with five catches for 75 yards in that game, finally providing the production many of us expected to see from him.

Mayer has been limited in the passing game by quarterback play, as the Raiders have started three different quarterbacks this season. Mayer’s best game came with Jimmy Garoppolo, and Garoppolo returned to play on Monday Night Football in Week 8.

We’ve seen flashes of Mayer’s potential to win downfield and be a reliable target to move the chains, but the Raiders offense has been trying to find their balance between throwing to Davante Adams and the rest of their pass catchers. With Garoppolo back and able to hit those middle-of-the-field in-breakers, Mayer should be targeted more often with some stability at quarterback.

Mayer’s Football Background

Before arriving in South Bend and establishing himself as one of the top tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft class, Mayer was a five-star recruit, the No. 2 TE in the 2020 recruiting class, and following a senior season where he tallied 970 receiving yards while racking up 102.5 tackles and four interceptions, the Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year.

Notre Dame landed the star tight end despite competition from Ohio State, Georgia, and Alabama, amongst multiple offers. In his debut season, the Fighting Irish TE earned third-team All-ACC honors while being named a Freshman All-American by multiple media outlets after tallying 450 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

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As a sophomore in 2021, Mayer set Notre Dame TE records for single-season receptions and receiving yards. Finishing the year with 840 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, he earned All-American accolades while being named a semifinalist for the prestigious Mackey Award.

In his final season with the Fighting Irish, Mayer went one step further as a finalist for the Mackey Award. Although he was ultimately beaten out by Georgia phenom Brock Bowers, the Notre Dame tight end was once again a thorn in the side of college defenses. Setting a career-high 12.1 yards per catch, Mayer broke his own program record with nine touchdowns.

Mayer’s Scouting Report

Mayer entered the 2023 NFL Draft cycle as a near-consensus TE1 prospect and with the potential to return the position to the first round of the draft following a barren year.

Mayer’s play in his junior season enforced the opinion that the Notre Dame tight end possesses incredible ability, but does his scouting report live up to the preseason expectation?

At 6’4 1/2″ and 249 pounds, Mayer already has the look of an NFL tight end. He puts this size and apparent functional length to good use as a dangerous pass-catching target at TE for Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, he’s demonstrated impressive aptitude in multiple aspects of blocking from the position. As one of the top all-around TE prospects we’ve seen for a long time, Mayer has a scouting report that should leave NFL scouts salivating.

Strengths

Although he measured in slightly smaller than his Notre Dame listed weight at the NFL Combine, Mayer has spent his entire college career boasting the frame of an NFL tight end. He already looks the part, and it most definitely isn’t just for show.

His size and physicality make the Fighting Irish TE an impressive all-round prospect who is as capable of catching the ball as he is blocking in-line. In fact, there are few prospects at the position who can compete with his prowess in this regard.

Mayer’s success as a blocker is formed of three components. His frame gives him a distinct advantage compared to his contemporaries in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Meanwhile, he plays the game with a physical demeanor that allows him to thrive in contact situations. Some tight ends simply seek to withstand contact, whereas Mayer thrives in instigating it.

This is particularly apparent when the Notre Dame TE is called into action against DBs and LBs. Mayer is a people mover who loves to force his will against his opponent, sparking success in the ground game during his time in South Bend. His game reeks of competitive toughness and physicality, a prerequisite for success when tasked with blocking in-line.

Weaponizing his frame and physicality is impressive technical proficiency as a blocker. In pass protection, Mayer’s routinely able to square up, absorb contact, and anchor to provide ample support for his QB. Against the run, he showcases understanding of taking correct angles as a blocker.

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Moving on from his ability as a blocker, Mayer uses his frame to be a force in the passing game. While not possessing elite length, the combination of his size and decent length allow him to consistently make catches above the rim. He also showcases good technique as a pass catcher, plucking the ball away from his frame with regularity while being an impressive ball tracker.

For a bigger-bodied pass catcher, Mayer produces some eye-opening grabs on film. He contorts his body and layout to make spectacular sideline catches. Meanwhile, he’s an intelligent and instinctive receiver who stays alert to the play and provides a reliable option for his quarterback when the play breaks down.

Mayer’s NFL Combine measurements highlight the lack of elite athletic ability, which we’ll address shortly. However, he’s by no means deficient in this area. No, he won’t win any straight-line races.

However, he does showcase quick feet on release and has the lateral agility to change direction quickly. As a result, he can create some separation both on release and when breaking from his route. Additionally, he does a good job of holding his speed through direction changes, with no discernible drop-off.

While he’s not your typical dynamic after-the-catch threat, Mayer’s frame and physicality make him a rumbling, power-fulled, after-the-catch option who is capable of churning through contact to gain valuable extra yardage.

Areas of Improvement

The major concern for NFL analysts over Mayer is his lack of elite athleticism. There are faster tight ends in the class who can get vertically far more quickly than the Fighting Irish phenom. Additionally, there are more laterally exceptional tight ends prospects who can break from routes with more sharpness and, thus, are more likely to create separation.

Although he’s routinely a reliable target in the passing game, there were several concentration drops on film. Meanwhile, there were some bobbled efforts that you’d like to see snagged more securely to minimize the chances of having the ball knocked away.

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Although Mayer has some impressive blocking reps on film, there’s room for improvement in this regard. He can get overwhelmed by larger, more physical defensive opponents in pass protection. Meanwhile, he needs to ensure consistency with hand placement and timing when run blocking so that he connects cleanly and remains engaged.

Although the Notre Dame TE has shown to instigate and absorb contact both in the open field and as a blocker, there’s some room for improvement here. There were multiple times when he was stopped on first contact and was unable to add yardage after the catch. That said, he wasn’t always put in the best position to succeed in this regard.

Mayer’s Combine Measurements and Results

  • Wingspan: 76 1/4″
  • Arm: 31 5/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″
  • Bench Press: N/A
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.7 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 32 1/2″
  • Broad Jump: 9’10”

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