After waiting until late in Round 2 this year, early signs indicate that Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer could restore first-round respect to the position in the 2023 NFL Draft. A productive pass catcher who also plays the game with physicality, Mayer has a scouting report packed with signs of a Sunday standout. He’s got another season of shining on Saturdays to come. But Mayer is primed to be a star in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Michael Mayer NFL draft profile
Before arriving in South Bend, Mayer was a five-star recruit and the number two tight end in the 2020 recruiting class. Following a senior season where he tallied 970 receiving yards while racking up 102½ tackles and four interceptions, he was named the Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year. The Irish fought off teams including Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State for the talented tight end’s signature.
Making an immediate impact as a freshman, Mayer registered 450 receiving yards and two touchdowns across 12 appearances and three starts in 2020. The Notre Dame TE earned third-team All-ACC honors while being named a Freshman All-American by multiple media outlets.
As a sophomore in 2021, Mayer set Notre Dame TE records for single-season receptions and receiving yards. Following two games with nine receptions, two games with two touchdowns, and two 100+ yard games, he finished the year with 840 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Furthermore, he earned All-American accolades while being named a semifinalist for the prestigious Mackey Award.
- Position: Tight end
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’4 1/2″, 251 pounds
Mayer scouting report
At 6’4 1/2″ and 251 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 tight end prospects we’ve seen for a long time, Mayer has a scouting report that should leave NFL scouts salivating.
Mayer has showcased the ability to make catches above the rim, using his size and length. Meanwhile, he displays good pass-catching technique, plucking the ball away from his frame using a combination of his length and impressive hands. Mayer’s ability to layout and contort his body to make spectacular sideline catches with regularity is uncommon for a player of his size. “Catch-point contortionist” was one of the first things written in my notes for the Notre Dame TE.
With a high school official 4.84-second 40-yard dash that will likely translate to a 4.7 next March, Mayer won’t win any straight-line races. Yet, he’s impressively quick for his size. He’s by no means a lumbering mover. In fact, he showcased quick feet and the ability to accelerate well with no discernible drop-off in speed or acceleration during transitions. Meanwhile, Mayer has showcased excellent lateral agility.
He can change direction well to create separation both on release and breaking from his routes. Combined with his stop-start ability, Mayer is able to add after-the-catch yardage. It’s not by coincidence or necessity that Notre Dame has used him in several receiving specific alignments, including outside of the numbers.
An intelligent and instinctive pass catcher, Mayer routinely stays alert to present a receiving option for the QB when the play breaks down. He is a mismatch nightmare for almost any defensive back or linebacker to try and cover. The Notre Dame TE also poses a nightmare for those positional players as a blocker.
When tasked with getting out ahead of the run game, the Notre Dame TE is dominant in dealing with DBs and LBs, routinely forcing his will and becoming a genuine people mover. In pass protection, he’s routinely able to square up, absorb contact, and anchor to provide ample support for his QB. As a result, Mayer is an exceptionally versatile prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Like Trey McBride in the previous NFL draft cycle, Mayer plays the game with a high level of physicality. This is apparent in his blocking and at the catch point in contested situations. Furthermore, he plays with impressive competitive toughness. It’s very rare to see the Notre Dame TE not on the field, and when he is, he plays with a hot motor.
Mayer areas of improvement
While Mayer showcases a natural pass-catching technique on his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, there are some areas for improvement. 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.
Although Mayer has some impressive blocking reps on film, there’s room for improvement in this regard. He can be 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.
Mayer moves exceptionally well for a man of his size. It’s rare to see a player over 6’4″ and 250 pounds line up as a receiver outside of the numbers. However, as an area of improvement, he could be more consistent with the sharpness of his route breaks.
Although the Notre Dame TE has shown he can 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. That said, he was often put in a position by his quarterback that isn’t conducive to breaking contact, so it’s difficult to fully ascertain his ability in this regard.
Current draft projection for Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
Notre Dame TE Mayer has a scouting report packed with potential that should make him an alluring prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. With alignment versatility and some ludicrous catch-point skills, Mayer is more than just a tight end in many respects. However, he also brings the physicality and blocking upside that you’d expect from the best prospects at the position. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that Mayer could escape the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He has the potential to be an immediate impact player at the NFL level.