Michael Mayer Draft Profile
The NFL Draft is filled with players that are either super raw with exciting traits and can be developed or guys where teams know what they are going to get. Notre Dame tight end, Michael Mayer falls into that second bucket; he is a prototypical in-line blocking tight end that is going to be able to play from day one and contribute immediately. Mayer is a “pro’s pro” that is going to be able to come in and start right away. Born and raised in Kentucky, Mayer was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and left Notre Dame as the all time leader in tight end receptions over Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert. Before being named a consensus All-American in his junior season at Notre Dame, Mayer was Kentucky’s, Gatorade football player of the year as a senior in high school. For teams that need some type of consistency and a player to rely on, Michael Mayer can be that guy.
When watching Mayer play the first thing that stood out was his willingness; whether it’s lowering his shoulder on a sift block or catching the football while taking a big hit, Mayer is willing to put his body on the line. Offenses can rely on him to make the crucial block on split zones that many tight ends fear. That block is one of the most anticipated blocks in all of football; a head-on-head collision between the tight end and defensive end running full speed at one another. There are only a handful of guys in the league who have shown they can consistently make that block, and I believe Mayer will be one of those guys. There is an absence of fear in his game, and that is the mentality teams want out of their tight ends. Against linebackers and defensive backs, Mayer consistently strains his blocks and drives the defender back. Against bigger, defensive linemen he may not have that elite strain, but he is still capable of holding his own. He has very good strength and rolls his hips through when having to make blocks at the second level. As a receiver, Mayer understands how to use his strength and physicality throughout his route progression. Whether he is leaning into defenders at the top of his route, using an arm bar when the ball is in the air, or hand fighting to gain separation; Mayer knows how he can win despite not being the most skilled receiver. That same intelligence is displayed when he makes defensive backs open their hips up, and then cross over at the top of his route. Mayer has natural hands that are reliable and can withstand tough terrain. While Mayer isn’t the most impressive athlete in the world, he is very reactive and when he is forced to make an on the spot athletic decision, his instincts have a way of taking over.Mayer is going to come in right away and make crucial blocks in the run game and possession catches on third and fourth down.
It is very important to understand roles in the NFL; Bill Belichick did not ask Tom Brady to run the read option, Nick Bosa does not have stand up and cover slot receivers one-on-one, and Michael Mayer is not going to be asked to run 50 routes every game. Mayer’s role is a true in-line blocking tight end that has the ability to help out as a receiver, but that is not where he is making his living. And while he is not the fastest or most elusive after the catch, I have bigger concerns that are more oriented towards his role. The first is his bend and ability to change directions; blocking is all about getting the right angle in order to gain leverage and seal. Mayer has average bend that causes him to struggle against blocking speed rushers. While he is very good on sift blocks, there are times where he breaks down too much causing him to miss blocks. Twitch is a term used a lot with receivers, but I think it is just important for blockers/offensive linemen. Mayer does not have the twitch or explosiveness off the ball that causes knock back at the initial point of contact. With that being said, his strength allows him to make up for the lack of pop, but I believe it would be beneficial for him to focus on explosive movements in his off-season training. While I believe Mayer has the potential to be a productive blocking tight end from day one due to his strength and mentality, there are still areas in his game that need work.
There is a comfort level in drafting a player like Michael Mayer; he is a guy who is going to come in from day one and make an impact on the field. While he is not going to be the fantasy football super star that turn into fan favorites; he is going to be reliable and put into a pivotal role in his offense. He reminds me a lot of Nick Boyle, the former Ravens tight end, who was extremely under-appreciated, but was crucial for their run game. I would like to see Mayer play for a team that relies on their run game like the Packers, Lions, or Cowboys. All three of those teams could use a piece of consistency that Mayer is capable of providing. While I have a third round grade on him due to the lack of bend and twitch, I can see him going much higher due to the importance of having a tight end who can help in the run game. Mayer is a good player, but there are limitations that still need to be unlocked.
Play Strength + Explosion: 10.75/12
Ball Skills: 7.75/10
Strain + Finish: 8.75/10
Reactive Athleticism: 6.5/8
Mentality + Relentlessness: 6.75/8
Short Area Quickness + Change Of Direction: 4.75/8
Play-Making Ability: 4/6
Final Rating: 77
Player Comparison: Nick Boyle
Team Fits: Packers, Lions, Cowboys
Draft Grade: Late Second to Early Third Round Pick
Draft Projection: Late first to early second