From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be profiling Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer
#87 MICHAEL MAYER, TIGHT END, NOTRE DAME (JR.) 6040,265 LBS.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Michael Mayer||6’4 265||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has good size for his position at 6’4 265
— Very versatile as an offensive weapon, having played end line tight end, H back, slot, and z receiver
— Makes good initial contact in the run game
— Runs through contact well on his route release
— Capable and willing to take hits across the middle of the field
— Very flexible player that plays with great technique
— Uses length and catch radius to his advantage
—Has overall good enough explosion to be split out wide anywhere
— Long strider that’s going to be able to run with a lot of second and third level defenders
— Doesn’t drive guys off the ball when run blocking
— Uses poor hand placement while run blocking
— Sometimes lethargic at the top of his route or when the quarterback is extending the play
— Drops balls against smaller defensive backs you want to see him catch
— More of a possession catcher than a splashy run after the catch guy
— 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Football Player of the Year
— Four-Star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals, and ESPN
— 2019 Kentucky Football Coaches Association Mr. Football and 5A District 5 Player of the Year
— 37 player in the nation, No. 3 tight end in the nation, and No. 1 player in Kentucky
— 2020 as a freshman played in all 12 games starting in three games against South Florida, Syracuse, and Alabama
— 2020 Finished with 42 catches 450 yards and two touchdowns
— 2021 Played and started in all 12 games
—Led Notre Dame receivers with 71 catches, and 840 yards finished tying for first on the team with seven touchdowns
— 2022 Once again played in all 12 games
— Had 67 catches for 809 yards, and nine touchdowns
After breaking down Mayer’s tape one thing that is incredibly evident is how fluid he is in running his routes and even the way he runs through contact. In college he was able to be incredibly versatile while being able to play H back, end line tight end, slot, and even split out wide. I’m moving forward with the assumption that wherever he goes as a pro that he’s going to be used very similarly. Or at least any competent team is going to use him that way because that’s what best suits him. In the run game he makes great initial contact but doesn’t drive block well so he’s going to have to learn to drive guys out of the hole and get them going backwards. Also, he uses pretty poor hand placement when run blocking. As a receiver he’s going to high point the football and make most catches over defensive backs. He runs through Jams and press man well as he comes off the line making him hard to initial stick to as a defensive player.
In this play against BYU, he runs a form of an over route, or 10 yard in breaking route, takes a little contact getting into the route, and makes a good-looking combat catch on the sideline. He shows great toughness fighting through traffic to get to his breaking point and pulls down a nice catch for the Irish.
Same thing on this play. You like to see him take a bump off the line of scrimmage and get full speed into his route. He gets into the end zone, high points the football, and this is what you like to see from your number one tight end. The toughness in his route is as impressive as his hands when catching the football.
As I previously stated, his hand placement and ability to drive guys vertically in the run game are active issues. These issues are apparent in this play, as he just throws a shoulder into the guy instead of breaking down and getting hands in his chest, issuing a drive block. Though this is a good play by him as he takes out the end man on the line of scrimmage keeping the running back untouched, allowing him to get into the end zone.
I’m really impressed with his ability to high point the football and then following the catch, get yards after the catch. He makes a really athletic play, while showcasing his ability to be versatile as he splits out wide. He’s going to cause matchup nightmares in the league if he continues to get experience playing in multiple spots on the offense.
There isn’t much negative on Mayer overall, but here you get a taste of one of his issues. He runs well and gets to where he’s supposed to be but once he gets to the defenders, linebacker just uses good punch and shakes him as Mayer doesn’t offer much resistance. He’s got to learn that at 265 he weighs more than enough to block defenders at an elite level if he can somehow learn to use better hand placement, planting his feet and driving tenaciously.
Here is a similar situation as he comes off the ball as an end line blocker. He gets from A to B, makes a momentary block as he gets hands on a guy and can’t maintain his block allowing the guy to make a tackle. One word for Mayer? Finish, Finish, Finish. From an outsider’s perspective this may seem very knit picky, but this is crucial when it comes to creating explosive runs. He isn’t an atrocious blocker, it seems like a big deal, but it’s such a simple issue to fix.
Mayer is a really impressive prospect and he’s going to make a great weapon in the NFL. He excels in every situation as a pass catcher. Screens as he’s split out wide, lining up on the lone side of the formation and running vertical routes, or even on the end line running intermediate routes like 10-yard ins and outs, crossers, over routes, etc. He can touch up his blocking ability overall, but he does have the ability at the moment to get just enough of a guy to make the necessary runs boom. He shows great strength when going up to catch the football and even after the catch. He will shake tacklers and get a lot of run after catch at the next level. He’s hardly phased when defenders try to make contact as he releases off the line. He has great core strength in the midst of his routes fighting through traffic and that’s the trait of a seasoned veteran.
I’m really high on Mayer who has an old school tight end body but plays like any new school tight end. When I sit and take his game and try to find a player who you can try to compare to, I continually come back to Mark Andrews. Big tight ends with good hands, who can make the best catches and show great strength when running routes through the middle of the field, taking contact. The Steelers may or may not look outside of their current locker room for tight end help but regardless, Mayer will be days gone by the time the Steelers even get to think about it.
Projection: First Round
Depot Draft Grade: 8.9 – Year One Quality Starter (1st Round)
Games Watched: VS. Clemson (2022) VS. Purdue (2022) VS. Oklahoma State (2022) VS. Ohio State (2022)