Michael Mayer NFL Draft Scouting Report
TE, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is a pro-ready tight end prospect who appears poised to be an impact player at the NFL level. Mayer has been highly productive throughout the course of his career at Notre Dame and pairs size, ball skills, physicality, and surprising versatility to offer the total package to an NFL team fortunate enough to secure his services. Expect Mayer to be ahead of the curve as far as NFL tight ends are concerned and become a quality starter shortly after entering the league.
Originally a 4-star recruit, Mayer played his high school football at Covington Catholic in Kentucky before being selected as the 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Football Player of the Year and participating in the 2020 U.S. Army All-America Bowl. Mayer was a two-way player who earned accolades as a top-50 recruit nationally before committing to the Irish. Mayer earned offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, and other programs in addition to Notre Dame. As a member of the Irish, Mayer quickly carved out a big role immediately, finishing the year tied for the most receptions on the team. By the time his college career came to a close, Mayer notched a program record for most career receptions by a tight end and tied for third all-time in program history overall with 180 catches.
On the field, Mayer illustrates several top-shelf physical qualities that should be hallmarks of his game for years to come. His hands and ability to catch in traffic jump off the screen at you immediately. Mayer has soft hands, excellent ball skills, and showcases firm concentration on passes over the middle of the field—whether he’s running stick routes from 3×1, spot routes over the ball, or working the sideline. He effortlessly catches the football away from his frame; offering a reliable catch radius. Those hands are paired with graceful body control, both in adjusting to errantly-thrown footballs that test that catch radius or tight-window throws along the sideline when he’s charged with working his feet on the perimeter. Mayer runs hard and with authority, putting defensive backs in a bind when deciding how to challenge him. Those who opt to cut low will be challenged with his free arm and surprisingly sudden feet to sidestep contact before getting back upfield. Mayer’s route-running shouldn’t be undersold, either. He’s deliberate with his releases and shows effective salesmanship to nod his head at the top of the route before triggering into his break to facilitate false steps. Mayer releases from in-line alignments effectively, avoiding traffic to release on schedule. But he also has logged wins from the slot and even isolated on the boundary.
There’s been plenty of examples of tight ends entering the NFL who struggle with the rigors of playing in-line, but I suspect Mayer is better positioned than most to avoid these hardships. There’s a comfort level playing in tight and Mayer showcases a good sense of awareness to get clean releases into the second level when he’s capped at the line and keep the timing of his routes on schedule. As a blocker, Mayer has good functional strength, effective hand punch, and does well to sustain his base—he appears more pro-ready in this regard than most college tight end prospects. There is also a clutch factor to Mayer’s game. The team went to him many times in clutch, must-have circumstances throughout the course of his career and he’s often delivered big-time plays.
Yet, for all of the impressive reps Mayer illustrates as a pass-catcher, I do think his athletic profile could be a limiting factor. I have seen him continue to show nuance by utilizing his size to bump and create extra separation but he isn’t likely going to be a run-away athlete. He’s a nightmare to wrangle at the catch point but his quarterback is going to need consistent accuracy when charged with man coverage as he currently projects. Mayer offers good functional strength but the “Baby Gronk” nickname probably paints an unjust expectation for him as a blocker—it is a good quality but not the dominant trait that Rob Gronkowski was known for throughout his NFL career. Is there room to grow into that level of play? Absolutely.
Expectations for Mayer are exactly what you’d expect for a tight end discussed as a potential top half of the first round player at the position: he’s going to win both as a blocker and as a receiver and should quickly become a trusted target for his quarterback. Mayer should be a staple on the roster across multiple contracts for the team that drafts him.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Easily translatable skill set to the NFL game
- In-line blocking skills will allow for impact in both the run and pass game
- Tremendous ball skills and contested-catch ability
- Mismatch target in the middle of the field
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Traditional positional value will scorn his draft range as a tight end
- Not the most dynamic player in the passing game; more of a possession player
- Tight ends typically require extended runway upon NFL transition to maximize potential
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 6′ 4 1/2”
Weight: 249 lbs
Arm Length: 31 5/8”
Hand Size: 9 1/2”
Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):
40-yard Dash: 4.70s
Vertical Jump: 32.5”
Broad Jump: 9′ 10”
Bench Reps: TBD
Ideal Role: In-line tight end
Scheme Fit: Scheme transcendent
Prospect Comparison: Jason Witten (2003 NFL Draft)
TDN Consensus Grade: 85.00/100 (First-Round Value)
- Crabbs Grade: 85.00/100
Written By: Kyle Crabbs
Exposures: Stanford (2021), Oklahoma State (2021), Ohio State (2022), Brigham Young (2022), Clemson (2022), USC (2022)
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